Minister McConalogue meets with tillage farmers

30/4/24 MAXWELLS PHOTOGRAPHY - NO FEE PHOTO SHOWS: Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, TD, with (L-R) landowners Pat Cleary and Darragh Cleary and Bobby Miller, chairman of Irish Grain Growers, Ballybrittas, Co. Laois. The field had a failed crop of winter wheat and was redrilled with spring barley. PIC: MAXWELLS - NO REPRO FEE

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D. today met with members of the Irish Grain Growers Group in Co. Laois to listen to their concerns and the current challenges being experienced by tillage farmers.

Commenting after the meeting, Minister McConalogue said:

“I was glad of the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Irish Grain Growers Group today and to listen to their concerns. The exceptional weather conditions at the back end of 2023 and into this year has resulted in significant challenges for tillage farmers throughout the country. Thankfully, there has been some return to spring work on tillage farms in the last two weeks with the improvement in weather conditions.”

The Minister acknowledged the particular impact of the recent wet weather and the delay in getting spring crops planted. The Minister said:

“With later spring sowing than normal and the risks associated for farmers, I recently announced that I will work to deliver €100/ha in financial support for crops planted for the 2024 harvest to give confidence to growers to plant crops this year, and to give them confidence in the future of their industry.” 

The Minister acknowledged the difficult year last year for tillage farmers and outlined the additional supports that were provided to the sector in 2023. These additional supports included a top-up of €3m for Protein Aid bringing the total budget to €10m. The Straw Incorporation Measure provided €16.5 million and the Tillage Incentive Scheme provided €8.3 million to growers in 2023. The €7.147m secured from the EU Agricultural Reserve was topped up with a further €7.147m in State funding. These funds were used to support growers with unharvested crops by way of an Unharvested Crop Support Scheme with the remaining funds being used as a once-off flat rate payment on the area of oilseed rape and cereal crops. 

In March, the Minister also announced an exemption to the crop diversification element of GAEC 7, easing concerns for tillage farmers by allowing them to pick the crops that best suit their circumstances, taking account of time of sowing, market returns and seed availability. 

Minister McConalogue emphasised the importance of a vibrant and sustainable tillage sector in increasing Ireland’s food and feed security while also contributing to climate change objectives. The Climate Action plan 2023 sets out a target to increase the area under tillage to 400,000ha by 2030 as part of Agriculture’s commitment to reduce emissions by 25%.

The Minister concluded: 

“The tillage sector is an important and integral component of the Agri-food industry and is a sector that I want to see grow and develop. That is why I established the Food Vision Tillage Group in May 2023 to set out a road map for the sustainable growth and development of the sector to 400,000ha by 2030. I recently received the final report from the Group, and I am considering its recommendations.”