Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue once again emphasised how he wants to grow the tillage sector in this country at the National Ploughing Championships.
However, speaking at the Irish Farmers Journal stand he gave no indication that quick action was going to happen, despite the fact that a survey by the Irish Farmers Journal shows that 50% of tillage farmers renting land expect to lose some of that land for the 2024 season and that almost 40% lost land in 2023, 75% of those to dairy farmers.
“I really want to support the tillage sector. I want to see it grow,” he commented.
“We can do tillage in this country better than anyone else in the world because our yields are very, very high. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing more of it,” he added.
The Minister also spoke about feed imports.
We never mention we’re taking cereals from South America. We don’t bat an eye lid to that
“We import two thirds of the cereal we need. We’ll always give out about South American beef coming into the European market whenever they have less sustainable beef production than our beef sector.
“We never mention we’re taking cereals from South America, which is the same principle. We don’t bat an eye lid to that.
"We should be growing our tillage sector more because we need that cereal here for our livestock sector and we can do it really well.”
While he said progress has been made in the past few years and that the Food Vision tillage group was working on ideas to help the sector, the only solution he spoke about on Thursday 21 September to help the tillage sector was the importation of slurry from dairy farms to tillage farms.
“The reason the dairy farmer is looking for the tillage land is to have extra land for spreading their nitrogen and slurry. So, if the land can be leased by a dairy farmer to spread the slurry on to, there can also be co-operation there.
"Instead of leasing the land, there’s integration and co-operation between the dairy farmer and the tillage farmer, so that it stays in tillage, but the slurry goes to tillage land. Meaning that tillage farmer doesn’t have to use so much chemical fertiliser as a result.
“From a dairy farmer’s point of view, exporting the slurry to the tillage farmer is definitely not as expensive as buying the land and still exporting the slurry on to it. We have to look at all the range of options."