Placing a predominant focus on adding value at farm gate level for farmers, is at the top of the 2018 agenda for the Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG).
That’s according to Bobby Millar, the Chairman of the group who spoke to That’s Farming aheas of the group’s first meeting of this year, which is earmarked for Wednesday, January 10th at 7.45pm in the Millrace Hotel, Bunclody.
The group will host a meeting to follow up on the recent launch of the Tillage report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture chaired by Pat Deering TD. The evening meeting is also an acknowledgement of Michael Creed’s efforts at the last Tillage Forum who stressed the importance of collective thinking among all players to drive the sector forward.
Guest speakers on the night include Pat Deering, Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture; Michael Hoey, Country Crest and Beet Ireland and Darragh Cleary, Zurich Tillage Farmer of the year 2016.
“All farmers and interested parties are welcome to attend the meeting, which will feature a number of informative presentations.” Bobby Miller said.
Driving the sector forward
Mr. Miller said that he agreed with Pat Deering that there is “an opportunity to push the sector forward”. The IGGG Chairman said that the report “was a starting point” and will allow for plans to develop and progress from here, but said that several amendments must be made for this to happen.
“There needs to a better relationship between the raw materials and the final product. More value must be added to the raw material. There needs to be a better understanding also.” Bobby explained.
“We are trading on world markets and we cannot compete as a small nation. This opens up an opportunity to sell ourselves as a small nation, with a product that has complete traceability. There are opportunities and weakness of being involved in a world market.” Bobby added.
“A different viewpoint must possibly be taken on the use of tillage land with regards the crops that are grown and the possible focus on premium crops,” Bobby stressed.
Mr. Miller said that promoting Ireland’s tillage sector should be a prime area of focus, that requires immediate attention.
“Irish grain needs to be marketed better and we have to chase higher-value markets. We see other Irish farm produce being promoted through organisations and trade missions, yet grain promotion is rarely on the agenda.” Bobby said.
“We grow the fully traceable best quality grain in the world. We should be pushing a GMO feed agenda here in Ireland.” Bobby explained.
When asked about the future of the tillage section and indeed IGGG’s plans, Bobby re-emphasised the importance of adding value to produce at farm gate level.
“We are going out of business; We just cannot compete. 50% of tillage land is rented from other farmers and others are retired farmers. We have to increase the farm gate price and that means looking at cost and what we can get for our produce.” Bobby concluded.