IFA Deputy President Eddie Downey said the response from the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to the unprecedented fodder crisis is totally inadequate, and he called on the Minister to come forward with a package of measures to alleviate the real hardship and financial stress on the worst affected farms.
Eddie Downey said, “The Minister must make an announcement immediately of an emergency fund, which would be targeted at individual cases where the difficulties are greatest and where there is a risk to human and animal welfare”.
Eddie Downey renewed IFA’s call on Minister Coveney to pay out immediately all outstanding direct payments due from 2012. Up to 3,000 AEOS 2 farmers are due €10m in outstanding payments from last year. In addition across a range of other schemes a small number of farmers are due payments where there may have been problems with their applications. “There are still some farmers who have not been paid their Disadvantaged Areas payments for last year as their files have not been finalised for payment. Any delay in payment is a cause of financial hardship given the difficult farming conditions experienced since last summer.”
The Deputy President said there should be a deferral on inspections, as farmers are under too much pressure at the moment.
As Chair of IFA’s Fodder Project Team, Eddie Downey said he had been working on this issue since last autumn with the banks, Teagasc, the co-ops and the feed merchants. “We have encouraged farmers with surplus fodder to make it available to those who need it. IFA have also met the main banks at Chief Executive level, setting out the difficult situation that exists on farms, and repeatedly reminded bank managers of their responsibility to their farmer customers. The commitment shown by all the stakeholders in this crisis must be matched by Minister Coveney now.”