Maize grow­ers fac­ing 20pc loss on yields in wake of Storm Ali

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - Hill farm­ers call for land qual­ity cri­te­ria on ANC scheme pay­ments

FARM­ERS are fac­ing a 20pc yield loss in maize and se­verely dis­rupted har­vest­ing con­di­tions af­ter Storm Ali bat­tered the crop across the north­ern half of the coun­try, writes De­clan O’Brien.

Maize crops in the north­east were worst hit, with over 60pc of crops lodged or badly tossed in coun­ties Meath and Louth.

Bren­dan Lynch from Ardee said 130ac of his 200ac of maize had been flat­tened by the storm.

The crop was ready to cut and the plan was to be­gin har­vest­ing yes­ter­day, Mr Lynch told the Farm­ing In­de­pen­dent.

“The crop was around 9ft high but the stalks were bro­ken 18in from the ground and the crop laid over,” he said.

The Lynches, who grow maize for anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion as well as for lo­cal farm­ers, es­ti­mate that yield losses due to the storm dam­age will be around 20pc.

Since the con­trac­tors will now be re­stricted in the man­ner in which they har­vest the maize — they will es­sen­tially have to cut against the PAY­MENTS lev­els un­der the re­viewed ANC scheme must re­flect the un­der­ly­ing qual­ity of the land and the de­gree of con­straint in­volved in farm­ing the ground, the INHFA has in­sisted.

INHFA pres­i­dent Colm O’Don­nell main­tained that ANC des­ig­na­tions had to be based on science and that the method­ol­ogy un­der­pin­ning the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process had to be open and trans­par­ent.

The De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture has in­di­cated that a full re­view of the ANC scheme and a remap­ping of the ANC ar­eas has been com­pleted and its find­ing will in­form pay­ment lev­els for the 2019 scheme.

“The INHFA are en­gag­ing with the De­part­ment to crop in the laid-over sec­tions — progress is likely to be re­stricted to 25-30ac per day when they nor­mally would ex­pect to cut 60-70ac.

John Fo­ley of Maizetech said the qual­ity of the crops this year had ac­cen­tu­ated last week’s storm dam­age.

“There are some out­stand­ing crops of maize this year,” Mr Fo­ley main­tained.

He said dam­age to the crops was con­cen­trated north of a line from Lim­er­ick to Dublin, with the worst af­fected ar­eas in Meath and Louth.

Mr Fo­ley pointed out that maize crops across the south­east were sim­i­larly hit by storm dam­age last year. While the vast ma­jor­ity of the yield was saved, the har­vest was much slower.

It is es­ti­mated that over 18,000ha of maize were sown this year. Ciaran Collins of Tea­gasc said crops are gen­er­ally good with well filled cobs.

Har­vest­ing just started in earnest this week and yields are ex­pected to be on par with pre­vi­ous years. ac­cess as part of the re­view the method­ol­ogy cur­rently in place for set­ting pay­ment rates/ bands within the up­dated ANC scheme,” Mr O’Don­nell said.

The INHFA leader said the method­ol­ogy em­ployed must “re­flect more fairly how farm­ers are com­pen­sated for the level of con­straint ex­pe­ri­enced in their farm­ing sys­tems.”

Last week Min­is­ter Creed con­firmed that pay­ments of €185.6m had com­menced to 77,000 farm­ers un­der the ANC scheme and to is­land-based live­stock own­ers.

“These pay­ments rep­re­sent a timely and sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial boost for farm­ers and for the wider ru­ral econ­omy. My De­part­ment will con­tinue to process, as a mat­ter of ur­gency, all re­main­ing cases for pay­ment as they meet scheme cri­te­ria,” Min­is­ter Creed said.

The pro­vi­sion of an ad­di­tional €25m for the ANC scheme this year re­sulted in in­creases of up to €600 in farmer pay­ments and brought the to­tal fig­ure to €4,000 for many stock own­ers.

The ANC scheme has a bud­get of €228m and is paid in two tranches, with the bal­anc­ing pay­ment com­ing later in the year. It is de­signed to sup­port those farm­ing lands with a bio-phys­i­cal con­straint such as lim­ited soil drainage, hill and moun­tain ground or rocky land.

Mr O’Don­nell said the tar­get­ing of €22m of the ad­di­tional ANC scheme funds at live­stock own­ers work­ing se­verely dis­ad­van­taged ground was “a clear ac­knowl­edg­ment that this scheme is de­signed to com­pen­sate farm­ers on nat­u­rally con­strained land.”

PHOTO: SEA­MUS FAR­RELLY

Bren­dan Lynch sur­veys the dam­age to the maize crop on his farm at Reagh­stown near Ardee, Co Louth

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