1. Agriculture World

Ireland Fights Against Ukraine War Hit on Supply, Introduces 12-million-euro Crop- Growing Scheme

The Irish government approved a cost of €400 per hectare on Tuesday to encourage farmers to grow more barley, wheat, and oats, reviving a "wartime tillage" program that was used during WWII.

Binita Kumari
Wheat Field
Wheat Field

Amidst the situation in Ukraine, Ireland, which is known for its grass-fed beef and dairy, has started a €12 million crop cultivation project to boost grain production. The Irish government approved a cost of €400 per hectare on Tuesday to encourage farmers to grow more barley, wheat, and oats, reviving a "wartime tillage" program that was used during WWII. Maize and beet will receive an amount that is likely to be slightly higher, while farmers will likely be paid €300 per hectare for crops like peas and beans.

Only approximately 7.5 percent of Irish farmland, or about 300,000 hectares, is used for crop development, and the proposal aims to increase this by 25,000 hectares.

Farmers, on the other hand, complained that the incentives were insufficient to offset the rising costs of fertilizer and gas.

"It'll cost you an extra €100 to run any tractor across an acre of land, €250 per hectare... it's a paltry gesture," Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, said. "It's not appealing to anyone who isn't in tillage."

Matt Dempsey, who raises cattle and grows barley, oats, oilseed rape, and beans on his farm south of Dublin, said he had no spare acreage.

Even when he did, the fertilizer "that last year would have cost me €6,000 is now costing me €21,000."

He also mentioned that the planting window was rapidly closing. "Spring barley is the only crop that has a chance. Wheat is unquestionably too late," said Dempsey, whose grain is used in Ireland's famous Guinness stout.

The tillage system, according to Charlie McConalogue, Ireland's agricultural minister, will "considerably boost our power to develop grain," according to RTE radio.

Two-thirds of the grain consumed in Ireland is imported, and most of it is used in animal feed.

The European Commission is expected to propose €500 million in emergency support for farmers throughout the EU on Wednesday.

Brussels is expected to approve additional subsidies to farmers from national governments to deal with spiraling prices on Wednesday, allowing countries to plant-animal feed crops on land left fallow for ecological reasons as part of the set-aside program.

Farmers can be stretched to meet current outputs, let alone increase them, according to the Irish Farmers' Association.

"This system is just not going to deal with the underlying challenge, which is the associated fee and availability of inputs," Tim Cullinan, president of the IFA, said.

"I can see the benefit," Donald Scully, a dairy farmer in County Laois, said, “but it was impracticable and risked creating a vicious circle if farmers converted grassland into arable land, lowering their productivity in the process. I couldn't do that because I want every acre I can to provide for what I'm doing," he explained.

He believes that providing farmers with fertilizer prices is a better way to boost production. "With the price of fertilizer, we're working for free," he explained. "The value of fertilizer is absurd... but if we don't put it in there, we're going to be out of business."

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