ICSA tillage chairman Gavin Carberry has this week called for the immediate reconvening of the Tillage Forum to address the looming crisis facing the sector.
‘Vast quantities of spring cereals have been written off, with spring barley crops in the North East particularly badly hit. Winter crops have fared a bit better but with early ripening, the yield is right down.”
‘Normally we can expect each barley seed to shoot out five or six ears of barley. However, this year only one head sprung per seed due to the lack of rain. The late cold spring followed by a harsh drought has been a real double whammy for the tillage sector.
‘In addition, ICSA understands there were 35,000 fewer acres of cereals sown across the country this year as opposed to last year. It stands to reason that grain yields will be way down, as will the straw we could have expected per acre.
‘The end result is that tillage farmers will have little or no produce to sell and there’s no getting around that. It’s devastating for those of us trying to earn a living from tillage farming and financial supports will need to be put in place. ‘A drought for the tillage sector has the same impact a fodder shortage has on other sectors and we do not want to see a repeat of the delays we saw in implementing supports during the fodder crisis. The crisis is here and the sector needs help now.’
Mr Carberry also noted the impact grain and straw shortages will have on other sectors: ‘Drastically-reduced grain yields will result in higher feed prices for beef farmers. There is also no guarantee that we will be able to import straw from the UK this year to cover shortages as they too are in the same boat.’