IFA President Joe Healy has written to Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed in advance of his meeting today (Wed) with Teagasc and co-ops on the fodder crisis. The letter proposes real and concrete measures the Minister must implement to assist farmers through the current fodder crisis.
Joe Healy said, “I cannot stress enough the pressure that the current situation is causing for farmers. The time for monitoring is long over; we need real action. The Minister needs show leadership and get a grip of the situation.
“It is important that we learn lessons from the Fodder Transport Scheme introduced earlier this year, to which only 15 farmers have applied. This scheme failed as it was overly bureaucratic. Practical, workable measures must be developed and implemented quickly to have a real impact at farm level.”
Joe Healy said a dedicated budget must be allocated towards resolving the fodder crisis and to cover the implementation of a meal voucher system and a subsidy for co-ops to import fodder from abroad.
“There is insufficient fodder of the necessary quality in the country to resolve the current problem. The Department needs to use its full resources to identify fodder abroad and to subsidise co-ops to import such fodder so that it can be sold at reasonable prices to farmers.
“At present there are farmers who cannot afford to purchase fodder, even if they can source scarce supplies. A meal voucher system needs to be introduced with an emphasis on some of the high roughage rations currently for sale or being prepared for sale.
Joe Healy also urged the Minister to engage with banks and financial institutions to advise them of the seriousness of the situation and ask that they take a lenient approach with farmers struggling to make repayments and to promptly process loans for farmers with cash flow difficulties.
He said the Department of Agriculture itself needs to roll out its low-cost loan package, as committed in the most recent budget, as a matter of urgency.
Further measures are needed to alleviate the pressure on farmers, Joe Healy said. “The Department should suspend all inspections on farms and ask Bord Bia to suspend all Bord Bia farm audits.
“All outstanding payments under the various schemes must be made to farmers as a matter of urgenc, in particular the remaining 15% GLAS payment to 48,000 farmers and the remaining 15% Sheep Welfare Scheme to 21,000 farmers.
In addition, flexibilities are required in situations where the weather is making adherence to farm scheme rules impossible, Joe Healy said. In light of difficulties farmers are experiencing in sowing crops, IFA has urged Minister Creed to engage with the EU Commission and Commissioner Phil Hogan to seek a derogation on the Greening three-crop rule for this year. IFA is also seeking that farmers in the GLAS scheme be afforded an extension to the time to close up land for Traditional Hay Meadow and more flexibility in the Low Input Pasture measure.
Summary of the measures proposed by IFA:
- The introduction of a meal voucher system
- A subsidy for the importation of fodder from abroad
- Meetings with the main banks to urge them to support farmers struggling to make repayments and promptly process loan applications
- The Department of Agriculture must roll out its low-cost loan package, as committed in the most recent budget, as a matter of urgency.
- The Department should suspend all inspections on farms and ask Bord Bia to suspend all Bord Bia farm audits.
- All outstanding payments under the various schemes must be made to farmers as a matter of urgency.
- A derogation on the three-crop rule
- Flexibility on GLAS specifications