Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is considering the introduction of a flat-rate payment for tillage farmers in October’s budget, the Irish Farmers Journal understands.

The payment would reward the lower carbon footprint of tillage farming and promote arable production. It could help to achieve the Government’s target to increase tillage area by over 50,000ha by 2030.

The Tillage Incentive Scheme is also expected to remain in place for 2024.

The news comes at a time when tillage farmers across the country are struggling to pay bills as crops fail to break even.

Irish Farmers Journal analysis shows that there could be losses from €300/ha on owned land and up to €920/ha on rented land with late-sown spring barley.

Some in the tillage sector are calling for exceptional aid to be granted for 2023 to help farmers to pay bills, which merchants say will not be cleared, and fund the 2023-24 planting season which has started.

Estimated figures from the Irish Farmers Journal show that on rented land (€250/ac) the only crop making money is early-sown spring malting barley.

However, many farmers failed to meeting malting specifications this season so there is huge risk in growing this crop.

On owned land, late-sown spring feed barley yielding 5.2t/ha (2.1t/ac) at a price of €200/t could lose €299/ha (€121/ac), while winter feed barley and spring wheat are also losing money.

While production costs have increased for most farmers this year, yields have dropped significantly and grain prices look set to reduce by €100/t compared to last season.

2023 will also see tillage farmers lose large amounts of income from their direct payments due to convergence.

Food Vision tillage group

Meanwhile, the Food Vision tillage group has compiled an interim report which suggests extending the Straw Incorporation Measure and Protein Aid Scheme, expanding the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme and examining the suitability of ACRES for tillage, as well as documenting the sustainability credentials of homegrown tillage crops, increasing awareness of forward selling grain and examining crop insurance.