Agriculture; Food and the Marine | Cereal growing domestic production
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the degree to which cereal growing continues to be attractive here; if its viability is coming under pressure from other jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The tillage sector is an important and integral component of the Agri-food industry. While Ireland accounts for 1% of EU cereal production, the sector is a major contributor to livestock production providing high quality grain to the animal feeding industry and straw for feeding and bedding. Cereal growers also make a significant contribution to the food and drinks sector.
The area under tillage increased by 20,000ha to 340,000ha in 2022. This year’s harvest was one of the best harvests in recent memory. Crop quality was good with low moistures which saved on drying costs. Yields were very good overall resulting in an estimated grain harvest of 2.42million tonnes, an increase of 93,000 tonnes over 2021 (Source: Teagasc Harvest Report 2022).
Grain prices were very good this year with an increase of approximately €100/tonne on 2021 harvest prices for both wheat and barley. Despite high fertiliser prices, these prices resulted in good gross margins for cereal crops
While there are undoubted challenges ahead for the sector, I am confident that the sector is well positioned to deal with those challenges and to take full advantage of the opportunities that exist. It can grow significantly in the years ahead and I have and will continue to back the sector given its value.
Earlier this year, I introduced the Tillage Incentive Scheme with a €400/ha payment on additional crop area. The scheme is being continued for 2023 to maintain and build on the progress made by the Scheme in 2022.
The recently approved CAP Strategic Plan will provide support for the sector through various measures including higher payments under the Protein Aid Scheme, continued support for the Straw Incorporation Measure, the continuation of the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme and access to Agri Environment and Climate Measures.
My Department also supports the sector through a comprehensive variety trialling system to identify varieties most suitable for Irish farmers and also through the seed certification schemes which ensures growers have access to top quality seed.
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