Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue will today ask Cabinet for approval of a €12 million package for tillage farmers to incentivize them to increase production.
The package comes against the backdrop of soaring prices for oil, feed, fertilizer and other farm input costs.
Minister McConalogue said that although the window for planting crops is short, it is the start of the growing season.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said he had acted quickly and was working with agricultural stakeholders to set up a national fodder and food security committee to ensure plans are made to the year to come.
The minister said one of the main things he did was ask farmers to look at their ability to grow extra grain.
“About 60% of the cereals (…) that we use in the country are imported and internationally, 30% of the cereals exported come from Ukraine or Russia, so this is the challenge for the coming year. “, did he declare.
The Minister said the package to be presented to Cabinet today will grant up to €400 per hectare to farmers who plant additional cereals on top of what would have been there the previous year.
Mr McConologue said he believed that would translate to further grain growth this year.
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He said another goal is to make sure the grass is grown productively to plan over the spring, summer and fall, and for next winter.
The Minister acknowledged that costs were rising and said: “It will be more difficult this year from a cost point of view, from a supply chain point of view, I think we will meet these challenges and we will continue to ensure that we produce food as we normally do, and we also ship internationally.”
He said the role of farmers working the soil will be “really, really important”, but he also said that cattle ranchers and dry cattle ranchers also have the opportunity to make land available through this program, or grow grain if they would have done so in the past. .
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the tillage program is a small step towards encouraging more grain production in 2022.
He said the goal of an additional 25,000 hectares is very modest.
Mr Cullinan said there would be a less than 10 per cent increase over what was grown last year with full adoption of the scheme.
“This program, together with the creation of the Food Security and Fodder Committee, will not solve the real problem which is the cost and availability of inputs,” he said.
New office to enforce rules on unfair trading practices
Minister McConalogue will also seek government approval to finalize new legislation promoting fairness and transparency in the agriculture and food supply chain.
The legislation, which will be enacted by the summer, will set up an office to analyze markets and enforce rules on unfair trading practices.
The establishment of a food ombudsman is an agenda for government engagement, and although that title is not used, the legislation would establish the Office for Fairness and Transparency in the Agrifood Supply Chain.
The new office, with a board and CEO, will be responsible for ensuring fairness to producers by providing analysis of price data and ending unfair trading practices within agricultural supply chains and food.
Mr McConologue said: “He will implement and oversee the unfair trading practices that have been introduced at European level in which I am taking them to national level, but it is also very important to ensure transparency throughout the supply chain. food supply.”
He said it is an independent statutory office, which can report on prices, on what is happening in the food supply chain.
“Ultimately, the goal here is to ensure that the producers of our food are fair, especially for the farm families across the country who put so much work and effort into producing food and who deserve a fair income for this,” the minister said. added.
Additional reporting Joe Mag Raollaigh