‘Vulnerable’ tillage sector needs help
WICKLOW farmer and South Leinster Regional IFA chairman Tom Short joined a delegation of members of the IFA National Grain Committee for a meeting with Minister Michael Creed recently, calling on the Government to halt the continued decline of the Irish tillage sector.
Since 2008, the area planted to the main cereal crops has reduced by 67,500ha, which represents a drop of over 20 per cent putting the sector in a vulnerable position within the agriculture industry.
Mr Short stressed to the Minister that although there has been a reasonable start to the 2018 harvest of winter crops, the situation with spring crops is totally different and he highlighted the potential crisis in waiting.
‘At best, yields are predicted to be only average due to the wet cold spring and subsequent drought conditions, while it would appear that grain and straw volume will be poor particularly along the east and south east coasts,’ he said.
In relation to the current drought crisis, he outlined that tillage farmers are willing to help by planting catch crops to alleviate the fodder deficit.
‘Due to the high establishment costs of these crops, the Minister should introduce incentive measures to encourage tillage farmers to grow such crops. Tillage farmers who plant catch crops under GLAS need a derogation in relation to the choice of crops and to be able to conserve by October 1,’ he added.
Along with an increase in the protein payment, the IFA called for other targeted coupled supports to be considered for Pillar I in the proposed CAP regulations. Regarding Pillar II, Grain Committee chairman Mark Browne said greater flexibility was needed in farm schemes so that tillage farmers qualify for higher grant rate payments.
‘This is particularly relevant in relation to the TAMS and GLAS schemes. Under the proposed new ANC scheme, tillage farmers must be eligible for payments on land that qualifies for an ANC payment in the Review of areas,’ he said.
Other issues raised with Minister Creed included support for renewables, quality assurance testing of imported grain, low cost loans, origin green and research on native grown feedstuffs.
Mr Browne acknowledged the work the minister undertook on the three-crop rule derogation for this year but said that tillage farming has become a vulnerable sector and urgent political action is needed at local and EU level to protect it.