The Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that it would provide a €100/ha (€40/ac) support payment to tillage farmers for crops sown in winter 2023 and spring 2024.

Limerick farmer Shay Galvin said that it is a very low payment.

“It’s not going to increase the tillage area and its not going to prevent people from getting out.”

Galvin has less than 10% of his usual acreage of winter crops in the ground.

John Murphy, vice chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) tillage committee acknowledged that it is a “help”, but that “it is very short of what we need”.

The IFA tillage vice chair would usually sow one third of his land with winter crops, but this year he has none sown as he didn’t get to harvest last year’s spring oats, where the winter crops would have been going in.

“There is a lot of talk about increasing the tillage area, but they haven’t done anything serious. It got to a tillage crisis before they did anything, and what they’ve done is very miniscule.”

Murphy also expressed concern over the derogation and the effect it is having on the tillage sector.


“The derogation must be addressed in order to save the tillage sector. Tillage farmers are getting smaller and smaller because of land required by dairy farmers for derogation.”

Describing it as “totally inadequate”, Kieran McEvoy, the national IFA grain chair said that “it is not enough to support tillage farmers” and that “€250 per hectare is needed”.

He said that “there is a lot of harm done to winter crops and fields” and “just because the sun is shining doesn’t mean the problems have gone away.” He called on the minister to engage with the IFA regarding the payment.

Alex Butler in Westmeath said the payment is an encouragement, but that’s all it is.

“I’d always be grateful for whatever we get, but it’s not going to help the books and we’re no further on.”

He commented that, this year, the tramlines are some of the worst he has ever seen. He is still waiting for land to dry out to get his crops sown.

Presently, he has only 20% in the ground as sowing only began at the weekend.

He said that “ground is slow to dry out”, but that with “two good weeks of weather, the ground would be in good condition”.

Despite the delayed start to planting, Butler is optimistic.

“If we get a good summer the crops could yield well,” he said.