IFA grain chair Kieran McEvoy has called on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to come forward and act quickly on the actions identified in the interim report of the Food Vision tillage group.
“Confidence is low among tillage farmers and action is needed to try and ensure the tillage area does not decline further in 2024,” he said.
In its pre-budget submission, the IFA grain committee sought a pilot fund where the construction of slurry storage on tillage farms would qualify for grand aid; an additional top-up for the Straw Incorporation Measure in 2024; and an extension of the Tillage Incentive Scheme.
All of these measures will help the wider tillage sector in the coming years, McEvoy added.
McEvoy said the harvest of 2023 is still not finished, with pockets of spring barley, spring oats and spring beans to be harvested.
“It has been the most difficult harvest since 2008 and 2012 in the vast majority of the country, with atrocious weather in July and August; moderate to very poor grain yields in all crops; and very high input costs.
“These factors have left growers with negative or minimal financial returns in 2023,” he said.
He also added that the changes signalled for farms in a nitrates derogation will keep land rental costs inflated and, in many cases, out of reach of tillage farmers.
“Exporting slurry to tillage lands must be part of the conversation in overcoming the challenge presented by these organic nitrogen rate changes,” he said.