Irish tillage farmers are undermined by third country grain imports which are of lower regulatory and environmental standards, IFA grain chair Mark Browne has said.

The comments came during a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, where IFA president Tim Cullinan again called for an immediate impact assessment of the EU Farm to Fork and biodiversity strategies.

Cullinan said: "Our preliminary estimates indicate a fall in tillage incomes of over 10% for 2020. Tillage farm incomes fell by 15% in 2019, representing consecutive years of decline for the sector.

“Although the decline in the tillage area has stabilised somewhat, the area planted to the main cereal crops has reduced by 67,500ha since 2012, which represents a drop of almost 20%.”

Welcomed recognition

The IFA president emphasised that current CAP proposals in relation to convergence and the administration of eco schemes would impact negatively on the tillage sector.

Cullinan also called for the coupled protein payment to be increased, to encourage plantings of these crops.

Browne welcomed recognition of the pressures on the tillage sector, with €10m ring-fenced for the straw incorporation scheme.

“While exact details of the pilot scheme are not finalised, we stressed that the specifics must be practical and pragmatic to ensure maximum uptake of the scheme,” Browne said.

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