Minister McConalogue stands firm on Tillage Incentive Scheme: No ‘adjustments’ in sight!

Minister McConalogue urged to add five-year tillage requirement to incentive scheme, says Social Democrats leader Cairns

The Social Democrats leader, Holly Cairns, has called on Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to revise the Tillage Incentive Scheme (TIS) to require that land must remain in tillage for at least five years. Cairns believes that this change will support current tillage farmers. However, McConalogue has stated that the terms and conditions for TIS 2023 are being finalised, and it is not intended at this point to adjust the scheme to include this requirement.

Last year, just under €10.1 million was paid out to 3,622 farmers on an area of approximately 25,000 hectares under the TIS. McConalogue highlighted to Cairns that the scheme was set up in response to the invasion of Ukraine as a “support measure to incentivise an increase in domestic cereal production thereby reducing dependency on imports.” The minister also said he had secured funding of €10 million for the “continuation of the scheme in Budget 2023.”

McConalogue believes that there is significant potential for tillage farmers to increase native production to replace cereal and protein imports for the livestock industry. In 2022, the TIS contributed to the estimated 6% increase in tillage area, or an additional 20,000 hectares. The scheme has proved to be successful and popular with farmers since its introduction in 2022.

Deputy Cairns also asked the minister about the steps he is taking to ensure that the tillage sector is represented on the Teagasc authority. In response, McConalogue outlined the role of Teagasc in the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM). It provides for strong stakeholder representation with five positions reserved for nominations from organisations deemed to represent persons engaged in agriculture or the agricultural industry. Teagasc has an active tillage stakeholder consultative group with 14 external members comprising representatives from tillage farmers, seed trade, end users, and the drinks industry. This group spearheaded publication of the Crops 2030 report – a strategic plan to deliver environmental and economic sustainability for the Irish Crops Sector.

In conclusion, the TIS has been a successful scheme since its introduction in 2022. While the proposed change to require land to remain in tillage for at least five years has not been approved, the scheme will continue to support domestic cereal production and reduce dependency on imports. The tillage sector is also well represented in Teagasc, which is working towards delivering environmental and economic sustainability for the Irish Crops Sector.

Categories: Agriculture