DROUGHT CRISIS – URGENT GOVERNMENT ACTION REQUIRED

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DROUGHT CRISIS - URGENT GOVERNMENT ACTION REQUIRED
27 Jul 2018

DROUGHT CRISIS – URGENT GOVERNMENT ACTION REQUIRED

Drought

IFA President Joe Healy has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Government to take urgent action to stop the escalating fodder and income crises due to severe drought conditions.

“There has rarely been a tougher time for farmers in Ireland. We are currently experiencing a severe income and fodder crisis, putting a large number of Irish farmers under extreme levels of stress and anxiety”.

The IFA President said that grass and crop growth has been seriously impacted. Many farmers have been feeding out next winter’s silage and additional concentrates for a number of weeks and most farmers are unable to get their planned second cut silage. Large areas of the country have had little or no rain in the last two months.

Joe Healy also added that even if it rains soon, Teagasc, whose surveys have estimated a fodder deficit of over 30%, say it could take at least 4 weeks for grass production to recover.

The IFA have proposed a drought action plan which is detailed below.

The IFA President reiterated his call that “the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and the Government must take urgent action to address this situation”.

IFA Proposed Drought Action Plan

Delivering Low Cost Loans

  • As far back as October 2017, the Government committed €25m for low cost loans for farmers but to date none of this funding has been made available.
  • Minister Creed must cut out the red tape and roll out low cost loans immediately which will generate up to €150m in liquidity for farmers.

Fair Market Returns for Farmers

  • Like he has done with the banks, Minister Creed must convene urgent meetings with the meat factories and retailers demanding that they stop exploiting the drought conditions, stabilise market prices and restore confidence.
  • The Minister must keep up the efforts to further increase live exports.
  • Sheep EID tagging needs to be postponed and then paid for by the Department of Agriculture.

Flexibility on GLAS/Nitrates

  • Changes must be secured to allow farmers to conserve fodder from areas under the GLAS Low Input Grassland Measure, take a second cut from Traditional Hay Measure Areas and graze or conserve fodder under the GLAS Fallow Measure.
  • Extensions must be allowed in relation to fertiliser and slurry application dates under the Nitrates regulation.

Earlier Direct Payments

  • IFA has sought higher payment advances of 70% for the BPS on October 16th and 85% for GLAS in November.
  • ANC payments should be brought forward to early September.
  • There must be no hold up on any farmer’s payments in 2018.

Growing Fodder Crops on Tillage Land

  • Incentive measures should be introduced to encourage tillage farmers to grow fodder crops on harvested land.
  • Tillage farmers who plant crops under GLAS should have a broader choice to include fodder crops and be permitted to cut by October 1st rather than December 1st.

Fodder Import Scheme

  • Minister Creed must immediately reactivate the Fodder Import Scheme which was available earlier this year.

A Strong Budget for Farmers

  • The Government must deliver a strong pro-farming Budget with full funding for all existing and new farm schemes and taxation measures that address income volatility. See IFA’s detailed budget submission here.
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