In Tuesday’s interview, Minister McConalogue acknowledged that the tillage sector has been eroded and that productive full-time farms were being forced to move to part-time farms as a result.
Irish Farmers Journal editor Justin McCarthy pointed out that if you take €10,000 out of farm incomes, it leaves a major hole to be filled.
I think it’s really important we do work to maintain and grow the area we have under tillage
While the Minister stated the number of farms losing these levels of payments was small, it is important to note that many of these losses are on productive tillage farms with low environmental footprints.
“It’s a sector which feels under most pressure from issues such as convergence,” the minister conceded.
“I think it’s really important we do work to maintain and grow the area we have under tillage because we have seen that under pressure in recent years. We have seen it becoming eroded. Thankfully, in the last year or two, it has stabilised and started to increase again,” he stated.
Minister McConalogue said that little can be done to mitigate the losses from Pillar I, but outlined the protein scheme and catch crop planting under GLAS as measures which can help the sector.
That aside and on a positive note, the Minister committed to supporting the tillage sector
However, these measures are already in place. Protein area fluctuates with payments, making it difficult to budget, and the latest environmental scheme (REAP) was not open to tillage farmers.
That aside and on a positive note, the Minister committed to supporting the tillage sector, stating it is his intention to continue the Straw Incorporation Measure for 2022, while adding that he is open to ideas for new initiatives which would help the sector.