Growing Grain in Ireland

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By Pat Ryan

Grain growing in Ireland creates the lowest carbon footprint of any agricultural enterprise, there is an official target of 400,000ha of tillage increasing from our current area of 335,000ha, yet the sector is struggling.
Competition from dairy farming caused by the ripple effect of requirement of more land by the dairy sector due to banding of milk yields and the new nitrate derogation. This is driving up rents to uneconomic levels for tillage and dry stock sectors.
85% of grain produced in Ireland goes to animal feed. This grain has to compete with imported feed ingredients on price even though we are only 33% self sufficient as a country.
How do we add value to native feed grain and make it more sought after as a feed ingredient that will return a premium for it. In our view there should be a carbon number associated with animal feed. Surely grain produced in North Tipperary, Laois or Kildare which is used in the production of animal feed has a lower carbon footprint than Amazonian maize.
The feed produced with a native grain and beans would have a lower carbon number which would feed into the farmers Agnav which measures the farms carbon footprint. The output of such a farm e.g Beef should receive a measurable sustainability bonus e.g 5c/Kg on beef much like the 20c/Kg quality assurance payment or possibly 1.5c/litre on milk. The supermarkets are looking for such schemes to demonstrate their “Green” credentials.
This would lead to enhanced interest in native feed ingredients and would support a demand pull which would ultimately support stronger prices.
We at Liffey Mills have maximized our inclusion of native grain and proteins with all our grain purchases channeled through our feed mills to produce our finished products.
As we enter the IFA election season, it might be an opportune time to make the above points to your preferred candidate.

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