Bumper harvest will yield little for farmers
A combination of falling grain prices, increasing fertiliser and financing costs has resulted in many grain farmers looking at little or no profit this year, despite record yields.
News filtered through this week of a €12/t hike in CAN fertiliser prices as two of Europe's largest nitrogen manufacturers moved to increase their quotes from €225/t to €237/t.
It comes at the same time as Irish farmers find themselves paying up to five times more than their Continental counterparts in interest rates on money to run their businesses.
"Many Irish farmers are paying rates of 5-9pc on overdrafts compared to rates as low as 1pc for even smaller growers in countries such as Germany," said the IFA's grain chairman Liam Dunne.
However, he is hopeful that the most recent hike in fertiliser prices may be reversed if US fertiliser giant, CF Industries, completes a deal to buy Europe's OCI over the course of the next six months.
"That might kick off a bit of renewed competition with Yara, which would help. But in the meantime, the trade must shore up grain prices to tide growers over, since this will be the third year running that many tillage farmers will end up subsidising crop production from their CAP payments, a situation that is unsustainable," he said.
Meanwhile, fears are mounting that demand will outstrip supply for barley seed dressing to combat Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) as the pest responsible for the disease becomes more resistant to pesticides.
The spread of the so-called knockdown-resistant (KDR) aphid has severely compromised the efficacy of pyrethroid sprays that cereal farmers have relied on over the last number of decades.