“It’s probably the toughest season I’ve ever seen on tillage farms,” Kieran McEvoy of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) told the National Fodder and Food Security Committee on Tuesday 9 April.

He said the IFA is seeking a tillage survival scheme. That scheme was detailed in the Irish Farmers Journal two weeks ago and asks for a €250/ha payment for tillage farmers.

McEvoy said that the situation was dire on tillage farms - not only could farmers not plant crops, but winter crops could not be managed properly. He said it is soul destroying to see crops not managed properly.

A suggestion from the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) to amend the Straw Incorporation Measure was met with criticism. McEvoy noted that the majority of straw in the scheme is not used for bedding, as it is oaten and oilseed rape straw. He added that farmers can opt out of the scheme late in the season if straw is needed.


He noted that there’ll be 40,000ha eligible for straw chopping in the scheme. He pointed out that 2023 was exceptional, as about 1,700ha (4,200ac) of crops were not harvested and about 5,000ac (2,000ac) of straw were not baled, leading to a loss of 50,000 4x4 round bales.

Bobby Miller of the Irish Grain Growers Group was highly critical that no support has come from co-ops or merchants for the tillage sector and expressed disappointment that the Minister announced fodder support, but has not come with support for tillage farmers.

Miller said that there is “a real crisis among tillage farmers” as they are unlikely to be in fields until the end of April. He said the sector needs financial support.

He expressed disappointment at comments from organisations requesting changes to the Straw Incorporation Measure.

He also said that tillage farmers should err on the side of caution if growing fodder crops for livestock farmers. He said maize is a costly crop to speculate on, so an end buyer is needed.