‘Vul­ner­a­ble’ tillage sec­tor needs help

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS - By DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

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.

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