Minister Creed has been urged to seek a deal for tillage farmers
The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, must secure an aid package for tillage growers who suffered unprecedented crop losses this harvest due to unusually wet weather, according to IFA president Joe Healy.
The 2016 harvest has proved to be one of the most difficult in living memory for many tillage farmers, he said, ,with some farmers suffering crop losses from 25 to 50 per cent, with some individual fields effectively a 100 per cent crop loss.
Straw was a valuable by-product and growers suffered losses in excess of 50 per cent, said Mr Healy.
“Tillage farmers are resilient and are well used to dealing with the vagaries of Irish weather and the toll that it can take on crops. However, the 2016 harvest has been outside the norm with incessant rain and high relative humidity,” he said.
Met Éireann data for September shows that the number of wet days and rain days for the month exceeded 20 days. This left it impossible to harvest crops. Crops that were harvested during were cut at extremely high moisture content and this has created further difficulties for co-ops and grain merchants.
“Many of these tillage farmers are facing extreme financial hardship, such is the scale of crop loss,” said the IFA president.
In a survey conducted by IFA’s National Grain Committee, it is estimated that approximately 380 people farming up to 5,000 hectares suffered significant crop losses.
“The supply of locally produced grain and straw is crucial in maintaining competition in a market dominated by the compound feed trade. In addition, the straw produced is a valuable alternative fodder source, while tillage crops provide much needed biodiversity in these predominantly permanent grassland areas,” said Mr Healy. He pointed out that when grain crop growers were committed to spending in excess of €1,100/ha on inputs and tillage operations. This had a significant spin off into the local economy.
“Many of the affected growers now have significant bills for the supply of inputs and materials with co-ops, agri-merchants, machinery dealers, fuel suppliers. but they are not in a position to pay them. The Minister, as a matter of urgency, must put in place an aid package for the small number of growers affected, such is the scale of financial losses that they face,” he said.