EU cereal growers facing poor crops and low prices

As UK cereal growers harvest their crops with yield reports hovering around the 'average' mark, their grain growing colleagues in Europe are bemoaning a poor harvest combined with low prices.

UK growers are reporting harvests are 'average'. Picture: Jean-Francois MonierAFP/Getty Images

Figures released this week by European farmers’ group Copa/Cogeca put EU wheat production down by as much as 10 per cent this year and rapeseed by 9.2 per cent, compared to 2015.

Chairman of the cereals working party Max Schulman said the situation could worsen as harvesting was on-going in some countries. France, he said, was particularly badly hit with an estimated yield drop of 30 per cent. The reduction was put down to extreme weather conditions.

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Schulman added that many countries had also suffered from pests and diseases this year and it was becoming harder to combat them as they become more resistant to crop protection products.

“There are not enough effective crop protection products on the market and this must be looked at.” he said.

Looking beyond Europe, he commented: “The bad situation EU farmers are facing is exacerbated by the bumper cereals harvest seen on the world market. This is forcing prices down and leaving EU farmers with severe cash flow problems.

“Without cash, they can’t buy enough certified seed or fertilizers to sow their new crops for the next season which could result in another poor EU harvest next year.”

The chairman of the oilseeds working party Arnaud Rousseau also blamed the adverse weather and pest problems for the fall in oilseed production.

“We need to re-think current EU policy on approving pest protection products, otherwise rapeseed producers will lose one of the major crops in their rotation system,” he said.

Yesterday also saw the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) call on its farm minister to set up an action plan to address “the serious and deepening income crisis in the tillage farming sector”.IFA president Joe Healy claimed his grain growing members were “facing a severe income drop this season of up to €100 million due to a combination of poorer prices, convergence in Greening and Basic Payments, high input and working capital costs coupled with reduced yields and crops that may not be harvested”.

Chairman of the IFA grain committee Liam Dunne said: “While the harvest is well advanced in eastern counties, 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the grain remains in the field in the rest of the country and the situation is very serious in parts of the west and north-west where up to 75 per cent of the spring barley crop remains to be cut.

“This is compounding the deepening income crisis on tillage farms.”