Food Vision tillage group chair Matt Dempsey said better communication is needed with livestock farmers, while organisations such as Bord Bia need to make changes.
Getting a clear message out to dairy farmers on slurry, demanding Bord Bia to pay attention to native grain and improving existing schemes to make them work for tillage farmers are all action points to help to maintain and increase tillage area in this country and were on the agenda at the Teagasc Crops Forum on Friday 8 September.
The interim report of the Food Vision tillage group was published last week and when finalised, Dempsey said it will have 30 solid recommendations.
He hit on some of the key points at last week’s forum. One of the first among them was to share nutrients between livestock and tillage farms.
Dempsey said: “We are in danger of missing a major communications point, which should be saying to dairy farmers very publicly don’t you realise that [exporting] thousands of litres of slurry from your farms is in fact getting rid of the need to lease extra land or to reduce your cow numbers.
“The choices are that clear. They can export the slurry and reduce the need for leasing or sacrificing cow numbers. That message, in my view, has not got through at all.”
Dempsey told the audience that given the announcement on nitrates last week, the tillage sector has a duty to get that message across.
Speaking about quality assurance, he explained that there have been problems on this front.
“Bord Bia will get behind native pork or beef or dairy products fed with imported GM material from all over the world,” he commented.
“Is there any scope for an Irish identification process that would give us some credit for that? The only credit that’s worthwhile is extra cash in our pockets.”
Dempsey went through a host of other suggested actions, including looking at taxation measures. He added that the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS), while really well intentioned, needs major changes and he said that the suitability of the ACRES scheme for tillage was “doubtful”.
For more details on exporting slurry and deciding if it's an option on your farm, take a look at this article.