A torrid year for tillage farmers marked by drought conditions in spring followed by a difficult harvest due to a wet autumn will culminate in a 15% loss in value for the sector on last year.
The figure for overall farmgate value is a preliminary estimate from the IFA based on current spot grain and straw prices.
IFA grain chair Mark Browne said: “It’s likely that the main cereal harvest will come in somewhere between 1.9m and 2m tonnes.
"While oats tonnage is down on last year, the real hit is on barley and wheat, where the combined output will be down approximately 400,000t.”
The majority of the harvest is now complete, Browne said. However, there were pockets of spring crops left to be finished, along with bean crops.
The continuation of broken weather had scuppered the hopes a lot of farmers had for promising spring barley yields.
Tillage incomes had already fallen by 15% in 2019 compared with 2018, according to Teagasc figures.
Browne warned that farmers were now looking at a collapse in income after consecutive years of decline for the sector.
This was unsustainable, he stressed, adding that final harvest grain prices must rise significantly just to cover production costs.
“The Government must support tillage farmers. Any reduction of funding for the sector under the next CAP will decimate the sector,” he said.
Browne also flagged the increase of imported maize into the country. In the 2019/2020 marketing season, one million tonnes was imported from third countries, double the figure from five years ago.
Imports produced to lower regulatory and environmental standards were undermining the value of quality assured Irish grain, he said.