EU Greening rules leave Irish tillage sector 'in danger of collapse'
The CAP Greening requirements and low margins are forcing many part-time and small-scale tillage farmers to reduce their acreage or exit the sector.
Tillage advisor Pat Minnock said the two- and three-crop rule introduced during the last round of CAP reforms was proving extremely difficult and costly for smaller growers.
He said many of those farming around the 30ha mark were either leasing their holdings to bigger operators or putting some land into grass to avoid the necessity of planting a second or third crop.
Under the new CAP rules tillage farmers with over 30ha must grow a minimum of three crops - with at least 5pc of the total area sown in the third crop - while those with up to 30ha must grow two crops.
"The three-crop rule for a farmer with 30ha means sowing a third crop on 5pc of the ground or around four acres. It's not feasible for growers, many of whom are part time, to get a contractor in to sow, spray and harvest four acres," the Carlow-based advisor said.
He said the Greening rules were compounding income difficulties in the sector for small-scale growers.
The income pressure in the sector has been reflected in a drop in sowings this autumn, according to the IFA.
Their survey found that the area of cereals sown this autumn will fall by 3,480ha (8,700ac) or 2.4pc to 141,200ha.