The body which represents local feed mills has raised several issues about the new pilot scheme for growing protein crops in NI.
In a written submission to DAERA, the NI Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) stated that it was “broadly supportive” of the pilot, but raised concerns that it could lead to a smaller area being planted in cereals.
“If the acreage of protein crops was to displace cereal production on arable farms the initiative would be counter-productive and would simply increase the requirement for imported grain,” the NIGTA statement reads.
The pilot will run for the 2021 and 2022 scheme years and will allow for payments of £330/ha/year for growing combinable beans, peas, or sweet lupins.
The consultation response from NIGTA, which was published by DAERA this week, states that beans have been “grown with mixed success” in NI over the years.
“Quality issues have arisen, particularly in drying the crop and moulds (and potentially mycotoxin) have been a problem,” according to NIGTA.
Instead, the grain trade body would like to see a scheme which incentivises the production of all combinable crops, particularly cereals.
In total 900,000t of protein materials and 1.3m tonnes of cereals are imported into NI each year, but less than 40,000t of locally grown wheat and barley is used in NI feed mills.
“There is an assured demand for these crops and virtually unlimited potential for expansion in the cereal sector here,” the response reads.