He said the target of an extra 25,000 hectares is very modest. With full take up, it would be an increase of less than 10% on what was grown last year, which approximately 300,000ha.
“This scheme, along with the establishment of the Food Security and Fodder Committee, is not going to address the real issue which is the cost and availability of inputs,” he said.
IFA Tillage Chair Kieran McEvoy said tillage farmers will be stretched to produce what they normally do, never mind increase the land planted.
Agricultural diesel prices have skyrocketed since the conflict in Ukraine began. At current prices, it will cost an extra €100 a hectare in diesel alone to produce grain.
“Farmers need more cuts in excise duty and in the carbon tax. It’s critical that sufficient agri-diesel supplies are available during the key spring and summer months when planting and harvesting of crops takes place,” he said.
“The tillage sector is in a position to supply more grain and feedstuffs for the livestock sector this year and into the future to help offset some of shortages anticipated in supply chains following the war in Ukraine,” he stated.
As it stands, only 7.5% of the Irish agricultural area is devoted to crop production. It’s critically important that any further decline is halted and future policy decisions must aim to restore the cropped area to at least 11% of the agricultural land area.