Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced a payment for tillage crops planted in 2024 on Saturday 13 April.

The payment of €100/ha (€40/ac) was met with a mixed response. Some farmers saw it finally as an acknowledgment of the struggles in the sector.

However, after this, the reaction to the payment is that it is simply not enough for tillage farmers who are fighting poor weather since summer 2023, falling grain prices and high input costs.

No details of the payment have been shared yet. One concern that growers have is that crops planted in autumn 2023 will not be eligible for payment.

So, farmers who persisted with planting during the hardship of autumn and winter 2023, who tried to meet the requirements of a three-crop rule that was eventually scrapped in April, may not receive the payment on those crops.

Not in good shape

Hopefully this is not the case. Remember, many of those crops are not in good shape. They had to be resown, have bare patches and are thin.

Presumably the payment does extend to next autumn’s crops, as it is for crops planted in 2024, but we need to keep farmers in business before then.

Also, if the Food Vision tillage report is to be acted on, another scheme should be in place for the 2024/2025 season.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), which had asked for a tillage survival scheme of €250/ha, said the payment “is a long way short of what is required”.

IFA president Francie Gorman said proposals to address “one of the biggest crises in the history of our tillage sector” were needed.

The Irish Grain Growers Group said that the payment "has fallen well short of the investment needed to achieve the government's climate action plan goal in relation to the tillage sector".


The industry is estimating that 20,000ha to 35,000ha of tillage crops may leave the system this year. At a rough estimate, that could be 150,000t of grain.

Approximately 300,000t of Irish grain are used in the drinks industry. Exports from that industry are worth approximately €1.8bn.

Yet, the Government and the Department of Agriculture are not going far enough to keep land in tillage and go some way to try to meet the climate action plan target, which requires an increase in tillage area of 52,000ha to 400,000ha by 2030.

In the meantime, if a farmer wants to enter into organic tillage, they will be paid €320/ha on the first 70ha (the average tillage farm size in the Teagasc national farm survey) and €60/ha for every hectare after this in the first two years of conversion.

In years three to five, farmers will be paid €270/ha on the first 70ha and €30/ha for every hectare after this.

There is also an annual payment of €1,400 for administration costs. This payment is €2,000 in year one.

Yet, there are very few new markets for organic tillage crops.

Flahavan’s has had huge success with organic oats, selling its product globally, but it has to be said the company built up this business before massive support came from Government for organics. There are small amounts of organic produce used in the drinks sector.