State scheme set to raise domestic grain by 10%, Minister claims

War in Ukraine a challenge to food and fertiliser supply chains, McConalogue says

The amount of grain grown domestically in Ireland is expected to increase by about 10 per cent on foot of incentives introduced by the Government following the invasion of Ukraine, the Minister for Agriculture has said.

Speaking in Washington, Charlie McConalogue said the current war would present real challenges to supply chains given the role played traditionally by both Ukraine and Russia in growing grain and manufacturing products such as fertiliser.

“The most recent assessment is that we are on course for 200,000 extra tonnes of grain to be grown domestically this year.”

He said the Government had introduced an incentive scheme for farmers under which they would receive €400 per hectare for every additional hectare of grain grown compared with the previous year.

Sheep meat

Mr McConalogue was in Washington on Wednesday for talks with US agricultural officials.

He announced earlier this week that Irish lamb and sheep meat would have full access to the American market under a new agreement reached between Ireland and the United States.

He said the deal on bilateral veterinary certification would allow Irish sheep meat plants to formally apply for approval to export to the US.

On the impact of the Ukraine war on food supplies, Mr McConalogue said about 30 per cent of fertiliser used on Irish farms was sourced in Russia. Over the past year, the cost of fertiliser had quadrupled to about €1,000 per tonne, he pointed out.

Fodder and grain

Mr McConalogue said farmers had to take account of the new challenges and take a 12-14 month view, looking at managing next autumn and spring in saving fodder and grain.

The Minister is to address the issue further in a speech to be delivered on Thursday at an event hosted by the World Bank at the Keogh School of Global Affairs in Washington.

Mr McConalogue will use the occasion to respond to claims that the security of food supply should be prioritised, if necessary, over the environment.

In his speech, he is expected to say “more than ever, politicians and policymakers must work together to ensure that we have safe, healthy and nutritious food for our expanding global population, while protecting our shared planet”.

“Climate action, biodiversity and environmental protection are absolutely vital to our future food security.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

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