While visiting a number of drought-hit farms in the South East today, IFA President Joe Healy said that Minister Michael Creed needs to deliver real measures to help farmers on the ground.
“Today’s announcement by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to allow a 70% advance payment under the Basic Payment Scheme is welcome, however the benefit of this will not be seen until October 16th” he said.
“While the derogation for the production of animal feed on fallow land is also welcome, other important flexibilities are required under the GLAS scheme which would be of much greater assistance. IFA estimates that up to 100,000 ha of additional land could be brought into fodder production by granting flexibilities for catch crops, fallow land and low input grassland under GLAS.
“The Government must also explore the additional flexibility available under state aid rules to support farmers at this extremely difficult time” he said.
“As a matter of urgency, Minister Creed must now clarify what exact measures he has sought and is seeking from Brussels. It is reported in today’s Farmers Journal that no formal request has been submitted by the Minister for a number of derogations that are needed under the GLAS scheme to help farmers to save more fodder before the winter” he said.
“Farmers also need more flexibility on fertiliser application rules to allow them to maximise grass growth in the next few months” he said.
“The drought is still affecting many parts of the country, with minimal grass growth and significant impacts on spring cereals and vegetables. There are now huge feed bills on many dairy and livestock farms.
“If the rain continues to fall, farmers may have a narrow window to maximise grass growth and save as much fodder as possible. EU restrictions which limit this must be lifted.
“What we asking for is that farmers are allowed to help themselves. We have a chronic fodder shortage and if we don’t act now it will too late” he said.
The IFA President again called on Minister Creed to introduce immediately the low cost loans which were promised in last October’s Budget, adding that these loans must be available for working capital.
“Many farmers have now run up huge debts with their co-ops and merchants purchasing additional feed. Opening up the low costs loans would make available over €150m in liquidity for farmers which would help to pay feed and other bills.” Joe Healy concluded.
IFA has published a full list of actions needed to help alleviate the crisis.