Wexford IFA has written to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue seeking urgent financial assistance for farmers with grain left unharvested.
The county’s IFA chair Jer O’Mahony estimates that there is around 1,500ac of lodged grain left unharvested in Wexford alone.
The letter calls for “swift action to save lands and machinery from being destroyed”, salvaging a crop which is no longer wanted by merchants.
It says that opening these devastated crops to apply for wild bird cover-funding would benefit both farmers and wildlife.
The Department of Agriculture announced that a €28/ha top-up payment will issue to crops declared on 2023 Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) applications.
However, O’Mahony warned that the failure to deliver further supports could jeopardise tillage acreage targets.
“We must save this sector of agriculture, as it is an area your Department has targeted for expansion. If we do not act, then I am certain we will see a huge contraction in acreage sown in 2024,” he said.
Low-cost loans needed
After another year of high grain growing costs, which exceeded €600/ac in many cases, the county executive has sought the opening of a low-interest loan scheme to allow farmers to recover from the financial burden of 2023 over a period of five years.
“Peace of mind needs to be instilled into the grower, co-op and merchants who are over-exposed by the poor quantity and quality of the grain already delivered,” the letter states.
Wexford IFA’s requests for funding went beyond compensation and income supports, with “the mental strain” needing more resources to be made available to voluntary organisations to “help cope with the sharp rise in the need for their already over-stretched services”.
They also were accompanied with a warning of “knock-on issues” cropping up in the dairy and beef sectors, with poor grain quality and low straw supplies.
O’Mahony invited Minister McConalogue to visit farms in Wexford to “see in person the issues and challenges faced by our farmers, and you will get a real sense of the scale and depth of the crisis”.
The letter penned by his county executive came after it hosted a crisis meeting of tillage farmers on Monday, which was attended by 100 farmers.
“The silence in the room was deafening! There was no anger or frustration visible, no person would speak about their own issues and this is far more worrying than being shouted at,” O’Mahony commented on the meeting.
“I am asking you and your Department to urgently devise a targeted scheme to help alleviate the financial strain on those with crops left in the fields.”