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Action needed to avert tillage sector collapse

August 15th, 2016 8:05 AM

By Southern Star Team

Ardfield tillage farmer David O'Brien.

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BY KIERAN O’MAHONY

A WEST Cork tillage farmer has called for immediate intervention to avert the collapse of the tillage sector.

David O’Brien, a cereal farmer from Ardfield, was commenting following a call from IFA National Grain chairman Liam Dunne for political intervention to halt the collapse of the sector.

‘The reality is that the tillage and grain margins have been a disgrace for the past four years. In fact this year’s yields are only average at best and the winter crops haven’t delivered too much,’ said David.

‘The price at the moment is predicted to be lower than last year’s and we feel that the trade haven’t come up with a reasonable price for farmers that will give them such a chance.’

David also highlighted the fact that farmers across the EU are being charged above the world average for fertilisers, which increased their cost of production.

‘We want the EU to get rid of the tariffs so we can compete with the rest of the world and the government really need to recognise the plight of the tillage sector. If you compare us with the dairy sector there’s lot of talk of helping them but we’ve been in crisis for four years now and some support has to come from somewhere, ’ added David.

IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne has warned that grain farmers are facing a severe income drop of up to €100m due to a combination of poorer prices and much reduced yields. He pointed out that without political intervention on a number of fronts, the tillage sector here was in imminent danger of collapse, with major implications for the entire livestock sector and the country’s world - renowned drinks industry.

‘The EU Commission and the government cannot continue to ignore the gravity of the deepening income crisis on many tillage farms after four consecutive years of low grain prices below the cost of production, increasing costs and reducing Direct/ Greening Payments,’ said Liam.

Mr Dunne sees the abolition of tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertilisers as one of the crucial measures needs to ensure the survival of the tillage sector, as fertilisers now account for 40% of variable production costs.

‘Grain farmers are very angry at the standard of the samples of imported barley that have been tested, having been taken from the lorry that was filled from the boat they witnessed uploading in Foynes earlier this week. Based on the number of samples obtained and analysed by trade buyers, the bushel weight varied from 60kph to 61kph, with screenings running from 9% up,’ added Liam.

Liam also said that livestock farmers are fully behind their fellow farmers who produce grain and will be insisting on the maximum levels of native grains in rations this winter, and that the IFA will be keeping a vigilant watch on the quality of ration on offer to our farmers this coming season.

‘The Irish cereal sector is in danger of falling into terminal declines unless immediate and decisive action is take to reverse the dramatic fall in incomes.’

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