IFA has been trying to get extra combine harvesters to Donegal as part of the effort to salvage grain crops uncut because of bad weather.

Early last week, an estimated 10% to 15% of the harvest remained uncut nationally, consisting of cereals, beans and spring oil seed rape.

The worst affected areas are the North West, West Coast, North West midlands, South West and coastal areas of East and West Cork.

In Donegal, 55% to 60% of the cereal harvest remained uncut.

Due to ground conditions having deteriorated rapidly, some fields or parts of fields may have to go unharvested, after recent heavy rains flattened many crops into the ground.

In Galway and Roscommon, Kerry and West Cork, an estimated 30%-35% remained uncut last week.

In recently harvested crops, moisture contents varied from 20% to 27%.

While many tillage farmers struggle through their harvest ordeal, the only impact for many Irish farmers will be a shortage of straw for their livestock.

Much of this year’s straw from later harvested crops remains to baled. In Co Cork, crops harvested in mid- August couldn’t be baled yet.

As a result, there is limited availability of feed quality straw, and prices have started to lift in recent weeks. Straw for bedding is also likely to cost extra this year.

For many Co Cork farmers, harvest difficulties have followed late re-sowings of an estimated 500 hectares of crops lost in the spring due to coastal windborne salt burn.

“We are looking at the possible termination or at least a collapse of the industry within the island,” warned IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne.

He explained, “In 2016, almost every tonne of grain produced in the country will be paid for at a price which is below the cost of production.

“We estimate that a tonne of barley will cost about €135 per tonne to produce, but we will be paid less than that for it.

“We have to make up that difference, which can only come from our direct payment from Brussels.

“That means that a farmer would have been better off staying in bed at the beginning of the season, because he will get the direct payment in any event if he tops weeds in the ground.”

“As a result of an open trading system and because we are not making any money, there is a serious danger that the country will have to look for more imports of grain in future, not fewer. We will not be able to produce it. We cannot keep going as we are,” said Mr Dunne.

“We should not be prepared, as a country, to accept that we can import grain when and if we want.”

“We will not have any control over the quality of it and we would not have any control over the price, not that we have much at the moment.”

Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament, has led politicians’s calls for help for tillage farmers.

She asked the Parliament’s Agricultural Committee to address the critical situation for grain production in Europe, and to recognise the severe harvest problems in Ireland.

She said she has received assurances from Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that the €11m exceptional adjustment aid package from the EU could be used for the tillage sector.


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