The need to provide farmers with greater confidence regarding the quality of farm inputs has come into sharp focus during the present price slump, according to ICMSA deputy president Pat McCormack
ICMSA firmly believes that the onus is on the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine to ensure that clear and more accurate information on key farm inputs is made available for farmers, he said.
“As far as farmers are concerned it’s the Department that should be verifying that the input information being put out is correct and certainly the Department should also be playing a greater role where disputes arise over the specification of inputs”, said the Tipperary Town farmer.
With feed and fertiliser accounting for over 35 per cent of 2015 inputs costs at €1.35m and €565m respectively, Mr McCormack said that the quality of these inputs is hugely important and has a significant impact on farm income.
“It’s surely vital that an independent third party is not only monitoring the quality of these inputs, but also publishing the results of any testing carried out. Margins are simply too tight at farm level for any inconsistencies and farmers need – and are entitled to get - confidence that they are getting what they paid for,” he said.
In relation to feed, Mr. McCormack said that the UFL or energy level of all feedstuffs should now be published compulsorily on all feed products being sold so that farmers can make better informed decisions when purchasing.
With the management of livestock being notably complex, farmers need as much information as possible and the making the publication of UFL values of concentrate feed compulsory would certainly be a step in the right direction and provide farmers with a greater level of confidence.
In relation to fertiliser, Mr McCormack said that the Department could play a greater role by carrying out more testing of fertiliser and publishing the results of same so that farmer-purchasers can have confidence in the product and source of the product they’re considering buying.
“In fairness, the Department is carrying out a lot of this work already and with a number of key amendments - particularly in relation to UFL values - we believe we can improve farmer confidence and give a strong signal that farmer income and the stressed margins they’re operating under are considered and taken into account by the Department.
“We hope that Minister Creed would move quickly on this and we’re sure that farmers would recognise and appreciate it for the progression it undoubtedly would be,” he said.