Following an appearance by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this afternoon, IFA President Joe Healy said the Minister has to recognise that the fodder crisis on farms is not going away soon, and he must provide immediate financial support to farmers.
An IFA delegation attended the Committee meeting today.
Joe Healy said, “While weather conditions have improved slightly in some parts of the country, the issues continue with livestock still housed. Farmers are facing significant additional feed costs and are under severe pressure. This is now a financial crisis as well as a fodder crisis.”
IFA has consistently campaigned for a meal voucher system for farmers. The Minister has refused to consider this, despite universal support for the meal voucher proposal, which was one of the few positive recommendations from the Fodder Action Group convened by the Minister at the back end of last year. A number of Oireachtas members today pressed the Minister for the introduction of a meal voucher scheme during the Committee hearing.
“If Minister Creed is going to continue to refuse to consider this proposal, he needs to come forward with a proposal to provide immediate financial support to farmers on the ground”
Joe Healy said, while it is welcome that fodder is now coming into the country, we need to increase the amount coming in and ensure it is available to all sectors in all parts of the country and to all farmers regardless of their enterprise and the scale of their operation.
Joe Healy welcomed the Minister’s announcement today that EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has approved a derogation on the three-crop rule under CAP greening for tillage farmers. He said it is also positive that the Minister has sought approval from the Commission to make outstanding GLAS payments.
The IFA President also welcomed the Minister’s confirmation today that the €1.5m allocated for the fodder import scheme is a budget estimate and will be increased if required.
Among the measures that require urgent attention are;
• A straightforward scheme to support all farmers on the ground
• Suspension of all inspection on farms, and ask that Bord Bia suspend all Bord Bia farm audits
• All outstanding payments under the various schemes including GLAS and Sheep Welfare must be made to farmers as a matter of urgency
• The Department of Agriculture must roll out its low cost loan package, as committed in the most recent Budget, as a matter of urgency.