EU tillage outlook: organic area on the up, prices to hover around €170/t
The outlook for the EU tillage sector is relatively positive, with prices to hover around the €170/t mark in the coming years.

EU cereal prices are expected to remain below the peaks of five years ago, but above the long-term average, at €168/t to €180/t in 2030, according to the EU's latest outlook report to 2030.

In the early years between now and 2030, prices are expected to be lower than in the longer term, especially for maize and barley, driven by ample global supply, low energy and input costs, and a relatively weak euro.

Barley and maize prices are expected to remain closely aligned.

Decline

Total agricultural land use in the EU is expected to continue its decline, though at a slower pace than in the past decade, to 176m hectares by 2030.

In line with this trend, the area of main cereals, permanent grassland and permanent crops are set to further decline in the period to 2030.

Meanwhile, the amount of land used for other arable crops and oilseeds is stabilising, while land used for fodder is increasing slightly.

Although overall agricultural land use is declining, positive yield developments are providing for an overall increase in production.

Protein crops

The report outlines that the domestic soya bean sector is set to continue expanding, albeit at a slower pace compared to recent few years.

Driven by a favourable policy environment, protein crops have recently experienced a strong revival.

Up to 2030, strong demand both for feed purposes and for human consumption, as well as the supportive policy environment, will further drive production growth of soya beans and protein crops.

This, together with some yield improvements, will lead to a further increase in EU production.

However, with a share of only 1.4 % of total crop area, the protein crop area will remain limited.

Feed demand

Demand for feed (from arable crops, fodder and pasture) should grow between now and 2030, despite mixed trends in animal production, according to the report.

The EU forecasts that total feed use should reach 275m tonnes in 2030 for compound feed (low, medium and high-protein content).

Low-protein feed is not expected to grow as sharply.

Higher demand for feed from locally-produced, GM-free and organic crops will positively stimulate domestic feed production.

The area under organic tillage is increasing, now standing at 7% across the EU.

Koen Mondelaers, from DG Agriculture, said that this could increase by up to 10% or more by 2030.

“There is a strong push for more organic and consumer expenditure on organic is growing,” he said.

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Grain markets: maize continues to take market share

Weekly weather: unsettled with best sunshine on Monday and Tuesday
Met Éireann is forecasting a mix of sunny spells and showers all week, with temperatures declining from Wednesday but staying close to seasonal averages.

Monday

After a dry and sunny start, scattered showers in the northwest will become more widespread, except in Munster and parts of south Leinster, where they will remain isolated. Top temperatures of 12°C to 16°C will reach 17°C in parts of Munster, before falling to 3°C-5°C at night. Winds will be light, mainly northerly.

Tuesday

A similar mix of sunny spells and scattered showers, again more frequent in the east, will come with warmer temperatures of 13°C to 18°C, lower in the north and north-east. Winds will be light and variable. Overnight temperatures will fall to between 5°c and 7°C.

Wednesday

Wednesday will start largely dry, but there will be showers over Ulster in the morning. Rain will then move in from the west, becoming widespread and persistent overnight. Temperatures will range from 13°C to 15°C as light winds veer from northerly to southerly.

Thursday and later

After a showery day on Thursday with normal temperatures, the outlook for the end of the week is for continued unsettled weather. A northerly wind will come with temperatures slightly lower than usual.

Farming forecast

Rain and soil condition

The east and south of the country is forecast to receive 5mm to 10mm in the coming week, and Atlantic coastal areas 15mm to 20mm. Most areas are expected to remain drier than normal, which was already the case last week.

Soil moisture deficits are above 40mm over parts of Munster and Connacht. Elsewhere soil moisture deficits are around 20 to 30mm.

Temperatures

After a warmer than normal week, temperatures are forecast to stay close to average in the coming days. Grass frost is possible in some sheltered areas on Monday night but the risk is lower from Tuesday.

Sunshine and drying conditions

With higher than average sunshine expected in the coming week, drying conditions will be good on Monday and Tuesday, especially in Munster and Connacht, but this will vary with showers and spells of rain.

Spraying

Monday and Tuesday will offer the best spraying conditions.

Read more

Watch: new Irish Farmers Journal live weather page launched

This week in photos: the Irish Farmers Journal Beef Summit
Our top photos from the last week include marts in Birr and Tuam, along with suckler farming in Co Tipperary.

Sheep sale at Tuam Mart

Nine-year-old Darren Mangan from Tuam keeping an eye on auctioneer Pat Burke during the sheep sale at Tuam Mart. \ Brian Farrell

Sean Myers putting in a bid to auctioneer Pat Burke. \ Brian Farrell

An overview of the weekly sheep sale at Tuam Mart. \ Brian Farrell

Ollie Treacy moving bullocks

Beef farmer Ollie Treacy moving his herd of bullocks to fresh grass in Lisnagower, Co Tipperary. Ollie buys in weanlings and carries them through beef, finishing them on grass. \ Philip Doyle

Monday's cattle sale at Birr Mart

Liam Feighery bringing his cattle into Birr Mart prior to the weekly sale. Philip Doyle

Irish Farmers Journal's Beef Summit

Irish Farmers Journal beef and suckler editor Adam Woods, Irish Farmers Journal markets intelligence specialist Phelim O’Neill, the ICBF’s Andrew Cromie, Meat Industry Ireland’s Cormac Healy and UCD’s Prof Michael Wallace get the first panel of the Beef Summit under way at the Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. \ Dave Ruffles

Teagasc director Gerry Boyle, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, Brendan Gleeson of the Department of Agriculture and Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy at the Beef Summit. \ Dave Ruffles

Minister Michael Creed. \ David Ruffles

Minister Creed in conversation with Hannah Quinn-Mulligan of the Irish Farmers Journal \ Dave Ruffles

'It gets to the point where you can only charge so much for a steak'
Hundreds of beef-producing companies across the world are expected to compete in this year’s challenge to find the world’s best steak.

Wholesale prices for beef have only gone up over the last 14 years, the executive chef of FIRE and SOLE in Dublin, Richie Wilson, has said.

At FIRE restaurant, Hereford Prime is used and Wilson thinks “grass-fed delivers more flavour than grain-fed”.

When asked about changes to wholesale beef prices since the restaurant opened 14 years ago, he said: "I would say we have tried to hold strong, we would try and support the farmers in whatever way we can. It’s [price] only gone one way, it’s only gone up. It gets to the point where you can only charge so much for a steak.

"When we fight, it is not for our own profits, it is for the restaurant. Nobody is going to come in and pay a ridiculous amount of money for an 8oz sirloin. We understand the plight of the farmer as well."

Wilson was speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the launch of the World Steak Challenge, at which he is chairing the judging panel. It will be held in Dublin on 9 and 10 July.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to rib eye, fillet steak and sirloins. From the winners in each of those categories, only one steak will achieve the status of World’s Best Steak 2019. The closing date for entries is 28 May.

2018 world’s best steak

The 2018 champion was a grass-fed Ayrshire produced by JN Meat International of Denmark. The steak, which was reared by Atria Finland, won best grass fed and best sirloin medals in the annual challenge.

“[Ayrshire] is a race that can get more marbled,” CEO and founder of JN Meat International, John Sashi Nielsen told the Irish Farmers Journal. He says small family farms in Finland supply Atria Finland and the cattle are reared both indoors and outdoors but receive just grass or hay.

“They are killed from three to seven years of age,” he said. When asked about the costs of rearing an animal to that age, Sashi Nielsen said “sometimes you have to think about when you take [slaughter] an animal for tenderness and taste.”

Prices

The farmgate price for beef in Finland, according to Bord Bia, is €3.95/kg for an R3 bull or €3.71/kg for an R3 heifer for the week ending 5 May 2019.

However, John Sashi Nielsen says that in the supermarkets there beef is €80/kg to €100/kg. He will be back to defend the title of World's Best Steak this year.

In previous years, the title of World's Best Steak has gone to ABP Poland, the Polish division of ABP Food Group (2017) and the Australian cattle ranch Jack’s Creek, entered by Albers GMBH which has won twice (2016 and 2015).

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