Providing effective representation for Tillage Farmers in Ireland086 3898823info@irishgraingrowers.ie

Zurich Tillage Farmer of the Year 2016

CHALLENGING TIMES FOR ARABLE SECTOR

As a young Tillage Farmer, the last few years have been difficult, with low commodity prices, weather related yield fluctuations, high input and land lease costs, it is imperative that we have a strong voice representing us, with a singular focus on all arable farmers exclusively.

If the last few years were particularly difficult? then the pathway forward is more uncertain, with Climate Change, Brexit, The U.S. political upheaval and the review of C.A.P. which commences in 2018.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Consultation has already commenced at National Level and I’m concerned that our voice is not being heard. I have read some very disturbing reports in media so far. The E.P.A. report published 10 th.Nov. 2016 states that the largest contributor to carbon emissions is Agriculture at 33%, with Transport and Energy contributing 19.8% and 19.7% respectably.

The arable sector is already making a positive contribution to help mitigate on some of these emissions as part of the greening measures of C.A.P. 2015-2020. These measures include crop rotation, cover crops, buffer strips, min-till, direct drilling and Ecological Focus Areas on hedgerows. These EFAS were fixed at 5% of arable land in 2016 and are being increased to 7% in 2017.All the above measures contribute positively to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as creating other benefits to the environment also.

The only reference I have seen to tillage land in the debate so far, is a reference to biomass as a renewable i.e. willow and miscanthus. The sooner attempts to peddle that stupid idea, sacrificing arable land as a mitigation measure to counter the expansion in dairy sector are killed off the better. We already grow more than 200,000 Ha. of biomass, it’s called straw, a by-product of our cereal crop. Very little effort has been made to re-source and develop straw in C.H.P.to generate electricity. It’s a lot less contentious than Wind Energy. Are some people afraid that it might become a valuable commodity? More effort should also be made to promote other forms of bio-fuel renewables, such as pure plant oil from O.S.R. and ethanol from sugar -beet. Both crops can also be used for food production. These crops especially sugar beet also act as a carbon filter during the growing period. We will also be contributing to reducing emissions in Transport section by using more bio-fuels in HGVs and light commercials.

The above crops are fantastic break crops and help to enhance cereal yield without taking any land out of production, which is precisely what will happen if we attempt to plant those other forms of bio- mass.

 

BREXIT

Since 2000 Ireland has been a net importer of food per U.N. data published in May 2016. We import € 3.5 Billion / annum from U.K. of which a significant amount is food related including beverages, flour, sugar, vegetables and grain. Grain products including milling wheat, maize, malting barley, feed wheat and barley are included in these imports. It is likely that some of these products will be subject to E.U. tariff post Brexit which will add to consumer costs.

The Irish arable sector has the capacity to increase to meet some of these demands, giving that we can produce the highest yields globally both in cereals and vegetables.

SUMMARY

I believe we have a positive role to play as arable farmers in the future. Never forget that the global population is increasing and food production and supply will always be needed. There is a lot of uncertainty globally.

We need a well-resourced organisation to represent us for the reasons outlined above. I welcome the setting up of THE IRISH GRAIN GROWERS and I will support them along their journey. I encourage as many arable farmers as possible to do the same, especially young farmers like myself.

Written by: Darragh Cleary

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