Fianna Fáil Agriculture and Food Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has called on Minister Creed to immediately open a low cost loan scheme as announced in Budget 2018 to support farmers pay the additional costs of sourcing fodder and concentrates.
“To much fanfare, the Minister announced last October that €25m was being allocated to leverage a low cost loan scheme for farmers, fishermen and for longer-term capital financing for food businesses in response to Brexit.
“The Government has, for some time, turned a blind eye to the needs of farmers crippled by the increased cost of buying fodder and meal concentrates to feed their cattle.
“Given that farmers are at their wits end and have been forking out thousands every week, they do not have the cash flow to continue meeting these upfront costs.
“In 2016, €25 million in exchequer and EU funds was used to guarantee a total loan fund of €150 million for farming loans at low-cost interest rates of 2.95%.
“An equivalent scheme needs to be urgently finalised and opened now to help farmers purchase the fodder they need to feed their animals and keep their businesses afloat.
“Seven months have come and gone since Budget 2018 was announced, and Minister Creed has failed miserably to deliver this loan scheme so desperately needed by farmers.
“For all intents and purposes, the Minister has been asleep at the wheel as the fodder shortage became a fodder crisis.
“Many farmers are under extreme financial stress. He needs to act immediately and provide low cost loans to farmers, while also providing meal vouchers for those to survive the next two weeks.
“I will be seeking clarification on a number of items at today’s Oireachtas Agriculture committee meeting where the Minister will be answering questions on the fodder crisis. Farmers want answers from the Minister, not platitudes,” concluded McConalogue.