Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 April 2019

Farmers say decision to ban key fungicide will slash crop production in Ireland

File photo
File photo
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The decision by the EU Commission and endorsed by the Member States not to renew critical fungicide Chlorothalonil has been described as a severe blow for the Irish tillage sector.

IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne said the loss of the product is going to compound the income crisis in the sector.

Teagasc research as found that where chlorothalonil is not available tillage farmers average net margin would reduce by over 50pc in wheat and 65pc in barley, with growers achieving national average yields at or just above break even.

It said cereal production will only be economic on the highest yielding sites with low costs of production as the risks of economic loss will increase dramatically on other sites.

Teagasc also said that Irish growers will lose competitiveness as it is anticipated that other regions outside Ireland will not suffer the same losses, and consequently grain prices will not rise in Ireland to offset yield losses.

Grain farmers have already experienced successive years of poor returns, which has resulted in a 20pc reduction or 67,500 ha in the total area planted to the main cereal crops over the past 10 years.

Mark Browne said the decision will also have serious knock on affects for the Irish livestock, dairy, mushroom and drinks sectors which rely on the tillage sector both for raw material and branding purposes.

He cautioned that any further drop in the area of Irish cereals could seriously undermine the validity of the Origin Green Brand.

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The IFA Grain Chairman called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to put supports and measures in place to mitigate the effects of the loss of the active ingredient and to ensure that there will be no cuts in CAP payments to tillage farmers in the next CAP.

The Chairman concluded by saying that Chlorothalonil has been recently re-authorised in a number of countries such as Canada, from which Ireland currently imports feed grains.

In order to maintain equivalence of standards, the Irish government and MEPs should propose a ban on the import of grains from countries which continue to use the active ingredient, he said.

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