Speaking on the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships, IFA President Joe Healy said that the next month will be a defining one for Minister Michael Creed. Joe Healy said farmers are facing a winter of discontent due to fodder shortages and huge feed bills arising from the summer drought.
“The Minister needs to implement the low-cost loan scheme which was announced in last year’s Budget. These funds must be available for working capital to allow farmers to clear their feed, fertiliser and contractor bills. It is farcical that almost 12 months on from its announcement this scheme is still not in place,” he said.
“The Minister’s stated position that these low-cost loans, when they eventually arrive, will be restricted to capital investment only, is like arriving to a fire with a cement mixer. Farmers need help to buy fodder and clear bills and they need it now,” he said.
“Budget ‘19 is almost upon us and the Minister needs to deliver a favourable budget for farmers at this very difficult time. Additional support for the low-income suckler cow sector is our priority. The Minister must tog out for farmers at the Cabinet table and deliver something for this sector before it is too late,” he said.
“These are two big decisions and farmers will judge the Minister’s commitment to farmers on the outcomes”, he said.
Joe Healy visited a number of farms in Munster yesterday and the latest Teagasc survey showed a shortfall of three million tonnes in the country. This shortfall is particularly acute in some regions.
“It is clear that the Minister now needs to introduce a fodder transport scheme within Ireland, similar to the one that operated last year, to help cover fodder transport costs within the country,” he said.