EU agricultural reserve funding must be used to provide urgent exceptional aid for the tillage sector, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) national grain chair Kieran McEvoy has said.
The tillage sector, he said, has many medium- and long-term challenges that are being looked at by the Food Vision tillage group, but right now there is a crisis situation on the ground.
“[The] IFA met with Minister for Finance Michael McGrath and Minister for Public Expenditure Pascal Donohoe last Friday as part of the pre-budget process.
"The delegation pointed [out] that this crisis had significantly worsened since we made our pre-budget submission and this must be addressed in the upcoming budget or before it if possible,” he said.
The European Commission has provisionally allocated Ireland with €9.5m of funding from the agricultural reserve, McEvoy said, and these funds are earmarked to support sectors affected by adverse weather, high input costs and market-related issues.
“The Commission also granted member states the scope to complement agricultural reserve funding with 200% funding from the national exchequer.
"The Minister [for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue] must leverage off this and ensure any exceptional aid is topped up with additional funding in the forthcoming budget,” McEvoy said.
Exceptional aid is needed for some sectors in 2023 and anyone involved in the production of tillage or horticultural crops have been particularly affected, he argued.
"Without support, we are going to see a further contraction in tillage area in 2024 similar to what we saw happening in 2023,” he concluded.