Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Tillage farmers demand aid after millions in losses

250 grain farmers have suffered losses running into the millions, according to the IFA
250 grain farmers have suffered losses running into the millions, according to the IFA
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Grain farmers will protest outside the Dáil tomorrow ahead of a private member's motion on emergency aid.

The IFA claims that 250 grain farmers have suffered losses running into the millions on the back of one of the most difficult harvests in recent years.

Grain losses are said to be close to €3m, while straw losses push the total write-off closer to €4m.

"Many tillage farmers are facing severe financial difficulties, such was the scale of crop losses experienced by individual growers in 2016," said an IFA statement.

Its survey showed that the growers worst affected were in counties Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon and Tipperary.

Cork was by far the worst, accounting for the vast majority of the 16,400ac affected. This translated into over losses of 20,000 tonnes and close to 80,000 4x4 round bales.

The grain was valued at €142 and €13 per bale. The volume of grain and straw losses calculated for each farm was based on the five-year average yield for the individual farmers.

Over 40 Fianna Fáil TDs have tabled a motion to establish a crisis support fund to provide direct payments to farmers impacted by the severe crop loss in 2016.

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They want the EU's state aid to be made available as tailored support payments for farmers - up to a level equal of €15,000 per producer over a three year period.

The submission notes "the appalling vista" that the Department of Agriculture underspent its 2016 budget by €86m, despite the "absolute necessity" to support tillage farmers and the rural communities that rely on this sector.

"The continual trend of low grain prices, increased input costs and poor margins over the last number of years has intensified the income crisis and financial hardship in this sector," said the statement to be presented to the Dáil.

Teagasc calculated that the average net margin on tillage farms in 2016 was minus €130/ha.

The motion also looks to progress the IFA's demand for a temporary suspension of EU import tariffs on fertilisers to reduce input costs for farmers.

It also seeks to promote the use of native grain and Irish malt in the manufacture of Irish whiskeys, spirits and beers.

In addition, the private members notice called on the Government to open a TAMS investment scheme immediately for the sector.

Weather data from September 2016 shows that all the counties along the western seaboard endured a minimum of 25 days with rain during what was a critical month for completing the harvest.

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