While the intention behind the new Tillage Incentive Scheme must be welcomed, the €400 per hectare on offer will barely cover the rising cost of fertiliser and green diesel witnessed in recent weeks, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Reacting to the announcement, Fitzmaurice said: “The scheme is a welcome development, but a lot of questions remain unanswered.

“Considering Ireland imports almost two thirds of its animal feedstuff, including in excess of 1.3 million tonnes of maize and 700,000 tonnes of soya in 2020, a scheme totalling €12 million will fall well short of what is needed.

“As it stands, almost all types of fertiliser are costing in excess of €1,000 per tonne – that is if you are lucky enough to purchase some.

“Most farmers at the moment would require the payment up front just to help with the cost of tilling the ground and getting the crop sown. Leaving them with the cost of managing it through till harvest.

“Farmers are also concerned with the prospect of being left with a crop which makes a loss later in the year if the war in Ukraine subsides and it is able to resume its normal production levels of cereal.

“There is also the Irish weather to contend with and asking farmers who do not generally grow crops to take on this responsibility.

“Another decision the Minister for Agriculture must make in my opinion regarding the scheme is if GLAS farmers can till and sow land – where suitable – which is normally set aside for bird cover, low-input permanent pasture and traditional hay meadow measures?

“Personally, I would prefer if the multi-species sward scheme was introduced in September rather than being rushed in now. This would make the management of these plots easier, reducing the likelihood of weeds and the need for spraying.

“The minister has some difficult decisions to make and must push for the best possible outcome if he is to get farmers on board,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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