Farmer Focus: Philip Reck worried about future for Irish agriculture

Philip Reck manages 900ha (2224 acres) of light to medium loams within 20 miles of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Ireland. Cropping is cereals and oilseed rape, all min-till established.

It was great to see the support the Irish Farmers Association and the other main farming organisations of Ireland received in Dublin to highlight the consequences Irish agriculture faces if the WTO proposals are accepted.

It was clear to everyone that EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson is attempting to sell out Irish agriculture.

Ten thousand farmers were in Dublin during the visit of the Commissioner Barossa and a declaration by these organisations was presented to him detailing the total opposition of Irish farmers to Peter Mandelson’s offer in the current WTO negotiations. We can only hope the Irish Government will make it clear that Ireland is totally opposed to the proposals.

News of the proposed changes to the hazard-based assessment system for pesticides is also worrying. If these changes are implemented, the triazole group of chemicals will no longer be available.

How will we control diseases in crops without actives like prothioconazole and epoxiconazole? With the drive to increase food production worldwide the loss of these actives would spell disaster for the Irish grain industry and the livelihood of farmers and those in associated industries.

Progress with the T1 fungicide – Proline (prothioconazole) + Bravo (chlorothalonil) + Terpal (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid + mepiquat chloride) – on winter barley is slow. Unsettled weather is making spraying next-to-impossible. Winter wheat is also due its T1 – Venture (boscalid + epoxiconazole) + Bravo + Terpal.

Oilseed rape is in full flower and it is notable from a high vantage point that the number of yellow fields visible on the Wexford landscape is vastly reduced from previous years.

I’m sure some farmers may regret that decision with decreasing cereal prices. A neighbouring farmer told me his winter oilseed rape crop “never looked as well, nor did he ever have so little of it”.

Philip Reck

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