ICSA’s Food Vision Tillage Group Faces a Tough Challenge Ahead

"ICSA predicts tough road ahead for Food Vision Tillage Group in addressing potential grain and straw shortages, says report"

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has expressed concerns over potential grain and straw shortages this year. The Food Vision Tillage Group, established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, will meet for the first time on Thursday, May 11, to address climate change targets in the crops sector. The Tillage ICSA Tillage Committee chair, Gavin Carberry, said that the fact that 30% of spring sowing has yet to be completed will only add to the already predicted shortage of straw and grain later in the year.

Carberry warned that the options for tillage farmers are diminishing and there is now a possibility that land could be left idle. “The weather has been against us in recent weeks; the advice from Teagasc is to try to keep sowing for another week or two but there is no guarantee that it will be possible. If we cannot sow grains and cereals, we are looking at planting maize or beet crops which itself is problematic as there may be no market for it,” Carberry said.

The ICSA chair also highlighted that tillage farmers are experiencing massive difficulties when it comes to leasing land. “Many dairy farmers are looking to increase their holdings due to changes in the nitrates regulations which leaves the lower income sectors unable to compete. Grain prices are also down to 2018 levels, despite big increases in our costs. None of this tallies with the governments stated aim of increasing the national tillage area by 52,000ha by 2030 as part of our climate strategy,” he added.

Carberry said that the tillage sector’s ability to produce in any given year has a huge knock-on effect on all the other sectors. “Already this year we know the overall tillage area is set to fall by some 8,000ha, and in terms of our ability to supply enough grains for feed or straw for bedding over the winter the outlook does not look good.”

The ICSA chair concluded that the Food Vision Tillage Group will have its work cut out, but it is also clear that more tactical planning encompassing all sectors is required. “We need solutions that address the needs of each sector without negatively impacting other sectors,” Carberry said.

Categories: Agriculture