Recently released figures showing that production of the main cereal crops fell by 21% last year is further evidence that a tillage survival scheme is needed, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said.

Data from the Central Statistics Office shows that in 2023 2m tonnes of wheat, barley and oats were produced, down 500,000t on 2022. Potato production was down 12%.

IFA president Francie Gorman said this shows that a new tillage support scheme is needed.

“It further highlights the urgency of the tillage survival scheme put forward by [the] IFA

“We raised this again with Taoiseach Simon Harris on a tillage farm in Kilkenny last week.

“No time can be lost in putting together a support package that provides some hope for the sector,” he said.

“Tillage farmers have faced a perfect storm since summer 2023, with falling grain prices, input costs remaining high, loss of rented land and heavy rainfall in the period since,” Gorman said.

‘Fighting for its future’

Gorman added that the tillage sector is “fighting for its very future”.

“The Government says it wants to have more tillage production and this will only happen if they step up and support growers.

“What was announced recently by the Minister for Agriculture is inadequate,” he said.

IFA national grain chair Kieran McEvoy said in light of the difficulties being experienced in the tillage sector, the organisation has proposed a €250/ha five-year payment for tillage farmers.

It is essential this funding is secured in 2024 to prevent a decimation of the national tillage area, he added.