Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Tillage growers on 'inputs' warpath

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Tillage farmers have vowed to get tough on the crippling cost of tillage inputs in an effort to glean a profit from cereals this year.

Challenging chemical and fertiliser companies was just one of the many strategies put forward at the inaugural meeting of Grain Ireland on Thursday night.

More than 200 tillage farmers packed into the Horse and Jockey hotel in Co Tipperary to hear how Ireland's newest tillage-farmer representatives plan to increase profitability for cereals growers.

Among the suggestions put forward from the floor were traceability checks for boatloads of imported grain, the pooling of grain in local selling groups, and the direct importation of chemicals and fertiliser.


"We are in a dire situation, where we are paying too much for our inputs and not getting enough for our grain," Grain Ireland's Colm Fingleton said. "We need to challenge chemical and fertiliser prices, because we can't stay whipping ourselves."

Grower Robert O'Shea added: "Merchants should be reminded of the handsome profits they make on every acre of our land from inputs. I reckon the merchants make the same profit per acre on my land as I lost last year."

Several farmers at the meeting maintained that imported grain should be subject to rigorous checks and even quarantine to reduce its appeal compared to native grain.

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"Can we challenge the Department of Agriculture to store and test imported grain, which can only be delivered when it tests clear?" asked grower Michael Lalor.

Another grower insisted that large PLCs should be held to their corporate social responsibility requirements and forced to look after the farmers that helped build them.

Meath farmer Tony Brady insisted tillage growers should secure carbon credits for their crops.

Expensive conacre was also highlighted as a major problem, with Eugene Larkin from Offaly suggesting that farmers club together to agree a maximum price for rented land.


IFA grain chairman Noel Delaney described the meeting as a useful forum to get ideas from tillage farmers, but added that if growers were not getting paid enough, they should simply not grow corn.

Representatives of the National Milk Rights Group were also at the meeting and pledged their support for the fledgling Grain Ireland committee.

The acting committee consists of Kildare growers Pat Cleary (chairman) and Liam Dunne (vice-chairman), Laois farmer Mr Fingleton (press relations officer), Wicklow man Jonathan Sharpe (treasurer) and Jane Smith (secretary).

Mr Cleary insisted Grain Ireland was not "a disgruntled sector of any existing farm groups" but was set up for tillage farmers to provide specific, continued attention on the tillage sector and to highlight their plight.

Membership of Grain Ireland will cost €80 per grower and an AGM is expected in May to elect a permanent committee.

Irish Independent