DEAR SIR: Once again, Irish tillage has been dealt a body blow by all in authority.

Is this because we are small in number, or that major farm organisations bow to big sectors, or maybe it’s because we are so easily replaced by a broker’s phone call.

We all agree climate change has to be a major focus of new policy, but one would have thought that the authorities would have firstly identified the biggest offenders and acted accordingly.

  • Irish tillage has the lowest carbon footprint, lowest GHG and ammonia emissions of any agri sector and proposals seem to affect this sector most severely.
  • North of 4.5mt of mainly unregulated feed imports are used in livestock feed each year in our much-lauded grass-fed system, and there is not a label, advertisement or promotion that reflects that fact.
  • Plant protection products banned by the EU on consumer health and environmental concerns are used in many countries from which we import animal feeds.
  • Bord Bia breaches its own Origin Green charter when it allows some of these ingredients in food carrying Origin Green labels. The charter states:
  • – Use of low carbon source raw material.

    – Protection of environment vital at all stages of food production.

    – Commit to provide full and accurate traceability with all food carrying Origin Green label.

  • Teagasc has questions to answer here too. It fails to recognise the clear distinction between highly regulated, low carbon native grain and unregulated imports.
  • Cheap feed is a driver of big farm organisation policy, but tillage area has decreased, the five-year average price is less than in the 1980s and costs have risen by a multiple of 12 since then. Now, convergence, linear cuts, frontloading, loss of plant protection products, cut in fertiliser and a list of new eco schemes all eat into returns.
  • Tillage is the only enterprise in this country that is forced to compete against totally unregulated competition, which breaches many EU production standards.

    We are sick and tired of being the sacrificial lamb of an agriculture policy that seeks solely to increase food sales.