Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
376. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of non-EU maize in euro and volume imported here annually over the 2016 to 2018 period; and if his attention has been drawn to the negative impact this has on the income of tillage growers here that are left with stores full of barley due to the importation of feed. [20363/19]
The following table outlines the volume of non-EU maize imported into Ireland over the last three years.
Figures in terms of the value of maize imports are not available.
The majority of maize imported is used in the animal feed industry. Due to our high proportion of livestock production compared to tillage area, Ireland is very dependent on feed imports relative to other EU Member States. Overall, Ireland imported approx 5.1 million tonnes of animal feed material in 2018. This was an increase of over 40% on 2017, mainly due to the fodder shortage experienced last year as a result of the prolonged dry spell of weather. This was supplemented with home-grown cereals used in the production of feed.
I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by tillage growers over the last number of years and that the sector has come through a difficult period in terms of adverse weather conditions which impacted on sowing and harvesting. My role is to ensure a sustainable and viable sector and whilst I cannot intervene in market prices, I have introduced a number of support measures for the sector. Budget 2019 provided for a Future Growth Loan Scheme which will provide up to €120 million in long term, unsecured investment finance for farmers and small scale companies in the food and seafood sectors.
The Tillage Capital Investment Scheme under TAMS II covers specific areas of investment for tillage farmers with over €7.7 million distributed to over 700 tillage farmers to date.
My Department also provides a high quality official crop seed certification scheme to the industry, in addition to an extensive national crop variety evaluation programme, providing invaluable information to growers on the latest varieties available.
Mindful of the many pressures on public funds, I wish to assure the Deputy of my continued support for tillage growers ensuring adequate supports where required are in place to sustain the sector.