Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 July 2018

Tillage, beef farmers have their say on a tough year - with tougher to come

Patsy Dardis
Michael Murphy
John J Wall
Eamon Treacy
Darren Nugent
Andrew McVitty
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

It's more than the weather that has affected the general outlook for tillage and beef farmers this year. We asked six farmers attending the National Ploughing Championships for their thoughts on how this year has gone, the scarcity of straw and on their prospects for the year ahead.


Tillage and beef farmer, Daingean, Co Offaly

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Eamon Treacy

"Two days ago I would've said that there was no future in tillage but I finished my harvest so I'll plough on for next year.

"I don't know any farming enterprise other than dairy where you could be optimistic about things at the moment. We're doing OK and we're going to stay at it. What else can I do now?

"We should have the same standard on imports as we do on internal grain. With regard to beef if you go back to last Christmas it was all Brexit and we were told we wouldn't see €4 per kilo.

"We got better prices than that before the summer and cattle weighed well. From the point of view of finishing cattle this year, it wasn't bad. It could always be better but it could always be worse. I don't have any major complaints about beef anyway."

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Beef farmer, Ballinalee, Co Longford

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Darren Nugent

"There's a huge shortage of straw right now. I plan on buying in a small bit of straw, not too much. Prices are desperate bad at the moment."


Tillage farmer, Co Westmeath

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Patsy Dardis

"To be quite honest I see no future in the tillage sector. The costs are too high and unfortunately everything is going in to the hands of major producers. I know a chap with 4,000 acres and he's in trouble. It's not volume, everyone is hit from the smaller man to the bigger man with costs and the costs we incur are too high to justify it all.

"The bigger players bought in fungicides and modern technology that brought our yields up but there's something happening, with all the fungicides we're using and the cost of them we're back down to where we were in 1970. The costs are €120 or €140 per acre still. How could you make money accepting a price of corn that's 40 years out of date?

"The picture is this: If yield is reduced and reduced there's only place for one thing and that's GM and that's the sad day - but it's a day that's coming."


Tillage farmer, Kildavin, Co Carlow

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Michael Murphy

"I might break even, that's about the size of it this year I'm afraid. That's all I can hope for. We're not getting enough for our products like.

"Farmers need to get more organised and form a union. It needs to be a global farmers union and that's the only way it's going to work. We need to raise the price everywhere. At the moment farming is just glorified slavery and the only way out of it is to be globally organised. Other global organisations control the markets. Unless we control our section we'll have nothing."


Beef farmer, Ballinalee, Co Longford

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Andrew McVitty

"There's a lot of straw rotten on the ground. It never got baled. It's dear enough this year compared to last year. I had to buy 24 bales of straw for the winter. The beef price is steady enough at the minute and hopefully it won't drop anymore.

There's only one winner out of it. It's very tough with the weather now, cattle aren't thriving at all unfortunately."


Tillage farmer, Midleton, Co Cork

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John J Wall

"The prices at the moment are very poor and the weather isn't helping it either. There's a lot of land going to grass now so that might help if you can keep a few cows. It's rainy enough, the yields are pretty good. It's touch and go, like. The beans are pretty good, we've winter barley and spring barley and beans. Money is a bit better in the beans anyway I think."

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