IFA president Joe Healy said that the scale of crop losses experienced by individual growers in a number of counties, including Cork, Kerry, Galway, Roscommon, Longford, Mayo and Donegal, this harvest means some farm families are facing the prospect of no income and significant debt arising from this year’s harvest – a situation from which they will not recover unless support is forthcoming.
‘A comprehensive survey of the farmers affected by dire weather this year, carried out by IFA, in consultation with Teagasc and the grain trade, indicates that that individual growers experienced crop losses running from 25% to close on 50%, with straw loss averaging about 50%,’ said Mr Healy. ‘We have some individual cases with significantly higher losses.’ He insisted to a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture: ‘It is critical that an aid package is secured and put in place for these growers as a matter of urgency, given the dire financial situation that many of them find themselves in, through no fault of their own’
The IFA president pointed to recent Teagasc outlook figures, which show the average net margin on tillage farms in 2016 was minus €130 per hectare, while the bottom third of tillage farms are earning a market-based net margin, of minus €440 per hectare.
IFA’s proposal is that the Government provides direct funding support to farmers who have been affected by severe crop loss during 2016.
This could be provided with direct compensation payments of up to €15,000, reflected in the State Aid De Minimis ceiling.
Joe Healy said that the severe income drop on tillage farms this year is due to a combination of factors, including reduced production for 2016, reduced oilseed and protein crop yields, lower grain and protein prices, reducing Basic Payments and higher input and working capital costs.
He said that, in order to secure the future of the tillage sector at large, it is vital that action is taken to implement the IFA proposals, which he presented to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed at the National Tillage Forum.