Irishness alone will not deliver tillage farmers a premium price for their grain - work needs to be completed as soon as possible on calculating the carbon footprint of Irish grain and feed.
At last week’s National Ploughing Championships, this point was made numerous times on the Irish Farmers Journal stand.
In order to compete worldwide, we need data to back up our sustainability credentials and animal feed needs to be included in this.
Head of grains at Tirlán John Kealy explained that his co-op's number one customer for grain is the feed mill and that he would like to see carbon footprints available for Irish grain.
“Provenance and Irishness on its own is not going to carry as much weight. To me, the untold story of Irish grain is around its sustainability credentials.
"It’s the sector with the most attractive sustainability credentials. It has the lowest carbon footprint. We need to be able to tell that story right through to grain going into our feed.
“The carbon number associated with a percentage inclusion of Irish cereals and beans will carry much more weight in the future than it just being of Irish origin.
"I think the two of those pieces together can start to turn the dial and hopefully we can make those claims stronger and louder into the future.”
John was speaking at the Irish Farmers Journal's stand at the National Ploughing Championships on Wednesday 20 September.
He noted that Tirlán offered growers a price as high as €280/t for beans early in the season and went on to say that Tirlán is focused on paying farmers for grain which delivers a premium over the standard feed price and that research and innovation has led to the development of numerous ingredients from gluten-free oats.
“We’ve been successful in adding value or paying over feed price for about 40% of our green grain intake and that’s something that we’d aim to grow.”
However, he acknowledged the extremely tough year that tillage farmers are having. As of Wednesday 20 September, there were still 500ac of gluten-free oats to be cut for Tirlán growers. However, five combines will make light work of harvesting once the opportunity arises.
Income is going to be down significantly
“It is going to be a much tighter year. Income is going to be down significantly. There was a lot of relatively expensive agro chemicals and fertilisers purchased when prices were relatively high.
“An important piece will be around the ability of the feed companies and the drinks industry to pay for grain.
"That decision is going to be taken by the various boards over the next couple of weeks and it’s something we [Tirlán] will be very conscious of - being able to support our shareholders and customers and pay the best possible price that we can because we do realise and recognise the pressure that all sector’s, particularly tillage is under for harvest 2023.”
You can hear the full chat with John Kealy from Tirlán and Pat Ryan from Liffey Mills on this week's Irish Farmers Journal Tillage Podcast which is out at 4pm on Thursday.