A foundation needs to be put into the Irish tillage sector or we face losing it, according to Michael Hoey of Country Crest.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the recent Ceres Network conference, Hoey said that a number of things need to be done to secure the industry.

“There needs to be a policy of beef and dairy producers using Irish feed, first of all.

“The distilling industry needs to focus on Irish grain and that will then put a foundation into the tillage industry, otherwise we’re going to lose it.

“It’s going to disintegrate because there is no support system. Really there needs to be a framework, very much like the large dairy co-ops, introduced to the tillage industry to make it sustainable long-term.”

Dairy farming

Meanwhile, with dairy farmers still in expansion mode post-quota, the demand for land has increased, with tillage farmers and dairy farmers in direct competition for that land.

“I think that there is a real danger that tillage farmers are not able to afford the lands that they use on a yearly basis.

“The tillage industry has traditionally been the one that has rented the most land in the country and now, with expanding dairy farms coming in, the tillage farmers can’t compete for that land any longer.”

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