Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, Timmy Dooley, has heavily criticised the Agriculture Minister for failing to put in place a coherent strategy to deal with the fodder crisis.
Speaking during a special Dáil motion on the fodder crisis last night, Deputy Dooley said the terrible summer we had last year gave a strong indication of the huge fodder trouble that farmers would face this year.
“The word “crisis” is often over-used in this House and in general discourse,” said Deputy Dooley.
“However, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the current lack of fodder is a crisis. People involved in the knackery business indicate that the number of fallen and dead animals this year has surpassed any recorded for the past 30 years.
“It was clear last summer, given the level of rainfall and poor quality of forage being collected, that a prolonged winter would result in difficulties. In my view neither the Minister nor his Department put any strategy in place for such an eventuality. The skill set in the Department of Agriculture for dealing with crises is quite high. It has dealt with BSE, foot and mouth disease and the illegal importation of cattle but on this occasion any such strategy was sadly lacking.
“We had a prolonged period of cold weather last winter, meaning there was no growth, and cattle were not out on the pastures as they normally would be at this time of year. The snowfall is not the Minister’s fault but, coming from a background of and understanding farming, and taking account of the poor level of harvest last year, he should have recognised the need to put a plan in place.
“The Minister belatedly put in place a scheme for transportation of fodder, which was welcome but not good enough. Farmers are still struggling to feed their cattle and Minister Coveney needs to extend the fodder transportation scheme and make whatever resources are needed available to help farmers through the crisis.”