The Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) has said that convergence is the biggest threat to the future of the active tillage farmer and has insisted on a maximum rate of 85%, as well as targeted money from Pillar II to the tillage sector to counteract the negative impact of convergence.

In its submission to the Government's CAP consultation, the group called for €15,000 per tillage farm to be made available for an environmental scheme specific to the tillage sector.

The group outlined the work already done by tillage farmers as part of greening and called on the Government to give flexibility under GAEC 8 and 9, which relate to crop rotation and the dedication of 4% of arable land to non-productive areas.

The IGGG stated that is must be acknowledged that just 7% of farmed area in this country is dedicated to tillage land which is very different to continental Europe.

“We have limited markets for many crops and difficult weather at harvest and planting times. A forced rotation would drive smaller and mixed farmers out of the sector,” the submission stated.

Protein and straw

Also in the proposals were calls for the Protein Aid Scheme’s budget to be expanded to allow for a payment of €350/ha (€142/ac) and for the scheme to become more flexible to include combi-crops and red clover.

A long-term commitment to the straw incorporation measure was suggested. The group wants to see the area which can be applied for raised and the budget increased.

Buffer zones, KT groups and Irish grain

The IGGG questioned the increase in the width of margins at watercourses from 2m to 3m.

“If this is necessary, we believe the margin should be available to be utilised in tillage schemes/programmes going forward,” the group stated.

The group also called for a return of the Knowledge Transfer Scheme and a retirement scheme for generational renewal.

The IGGG stated that some imported feed has a carbon footprint 27 times higher than that of Irish grain and commented that there was no requirement in either the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme or the Dairy Beef Welfare Scheme to use domestically produced feed.

Environmental scheme

On an environment scheme for tillage, the IGGG stated: “There will have to be a scheme to reward tillage farmers for work done and being more environmentally friendly.

"The budget needs to set a target of €15,000 per tillage farmer to get achievable results. Our soil is our greatest asset and measures to promote its value and purpose are a must.”

Some examples of measures for a tillage-specific environmental scheme that the IGGG proposed are as follows:

  • Beehives - €100/hive).
  • Small groves, awkward corners - 0.1ha plant fruit and nut trees, native trees - €2,500/ha.
  • Import slurry/farmyard manure from livestock, pig and poultry sector - value to be determined.
  • Cover crops, more varied mixes, short-term cover crops - rates vary depending on seed mix.
  • Summer cover crops rather than planting or fallow, plant a summer cover crop to improve soil, etc - €750/ha.
  • Low nitrogen use grain crops, potential examples including malt barley and oats.
  • Measures to increase farmland birds, as certain populations have plummeted due to the loss of tillage land.
  • Reed beds and water features, such as ponds - set design - €1,000 per annum per feature.