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‘Minister must act now’ for tillage farmers – IGGG chair

https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/minister-must-act-now-for-tillage-farmers-iggg-chair/: ‘Minister must act now’ for tillage farmers – IGGG chair

Richard Halleron

February 23, 2024 6:10 pm

Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG) chair, Bobby Miller, has said that the Food Vision Tillage Group report will most likely be published before St. Patrick’s Day and the minister must support the sector.

According to Miller: “It will come too late to support the crops sector for the 2024 season. That vacuum must be filled this spring by the government, while proposed programmes will perhaps be implemented for the 2025 season onwards.

“Tillage farmer morale is currently very low. The likelihood, is that the area sown out in crops is now predicted to fall by as much as 30,000ha from last year. That’s a massive percentage loss in just one year.

“Given the specific challenges facing growers right now, the minister must act now to deliver real support for tillage farmers early in 2024.”

Food Vision Tillage Group report

According to the IGGG representative, all of the stakeholder representatives making up the Food Vision Tillage Group will meet once more prior to the publication of the official report.

The IGGG chair continued: “This will give those involved an opportunity to provide their final perspectives.

“The final report will be made available to the agriculture minister, and the industry will then await the response of government to the recommendations contained within it.”

Miller highlighted the importance of the environmental sustainability standards already achieved by the tillage sector being fully recognised.

“The most recent analysis carried out by Teagasc, with the aid of Tirlán grower suppliers, has confirmed that Irish tillage crops are effectively securing net zero carbon performance levels at the present time,” he told Agriland.

“This is a full 26 years ahead of the targets set within Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.”

Trade deal

The IGGG representative also wants the Irish government to include imported feedstuffs from Mercosur countries within its concerns, and not just agri-food exports from this region.

According to Miller, both Taoiseach Leo Varakar, and Minister McConalogue have recently commented on the Mercosur trade deal.

Miller said: “They highlighted their concerns about agri-food standards from Mercosur countries, but failed to mention feed from the same region – why?”

Ireland imported over five million tonnes of feedstuffs in 2023.

Miller continued:

“Close to one million tonnes of these feedstuffs came from Mercosur countries. Is it fair to have these materials, with their far greater carbon footprints, competing with home-grown grains that are produced to high sustainability standards?”

Bobby Miller said tillage farmers are conscious that the spring planting season should get underway over the coming days, weather permitting.

However, he has acknowledged the legacy created by the atrocious weather conditions that characterised last autumn.

“We have, in early February, written to the agricultural minister and department of agriculture officials asking that a derogation should be requested regarding the implementation of the three-crop rule in 2024,” he said.

“We have been contacted and told that the matter has been taken up directly by the Irish government with the European Commission. A reply from the EU Commission is pending.”