At today’s National Council meeting in Dublin, members reiterated the need for the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to intensify the Department’s response to the ongoing fodder emergency.
Joe Healy said many farmers are at breaking point because of the pressures and stresses arising from the fodder problems and related difficulties. He said the heavy overnight rain in many parts of the country has added to the severe financial difficulties that farmers are facing. It will add to the delays in getting cattle out to grass as the ground conditions have no chance to improve.
IFA has called for a doubling of the fodder import subsidy from €60 to €120 per bale, and a doubling of the 20,000-tonne limit. This will help to bring in more fodder, which can then be provided at a reduced price to all farmers. “The Minister has said that more funding for the scheme would be provided if it was needed. The unanimous and strongly-held view of our Council members today is that more is needed and it is needed now”, he said.
On the national transport fodder subsidy, Joe Healy said the restrictions must be removed, including the abolition of the 50km limit. The payments for the fodder subsidy should go directly to the co-op, removing the necessity for farmers to apply. “This will avoid farmers having to pay the cost upfront and overcome the massive bureaucracy that is crippling the movement of fodder.”
IFA has consistently campaigned for a meal voucher system for farmers. The Minister has refused to consider this, but IFA remains strongly of the view that this is the most effective way of providing targeted support to sheep and livestock farmers who have an acute shortage of fodder and feed.
The IFA President 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 will attend this evening’s Dail debate on the issue.
Among the other measures that require urgent attention are:
- Suspension of all inspections on farms, without having any impact on payments;
- All outstanding payments under the various schemes including GLAS and Sheep Welfare must be made to farmers immediately;
- The Department of Agriculture must roll out its low-cost loan package, as committed in the most recent Budget, as a matter of urgency;
- Flexibility on stock sales for farmers in the BDGP suckler scheme.