Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, Jackie Cahill has said that a new low-interest loan scheme must be made available to farmers affected by the Fodder Crisis to pay for the increased costs they are facing.

Deputy Cahill was commenting after the Minister finally announced a scheme last night to subsidise the cost of importation of fodder into the country. A previous low-interest credit scheme was made available in 2016, promised in 2017 but never delivered, but now more than ever, it’s needed to keep farmers afloat.

“However, the actual cost of buying fodder has not been addressed by the Government. The vast majority of farmers do not have the cash flow at present to pay the upfront costs of additional fodder and concentrates.

“In addition to fodder costs, farmers are purchasing concentrates to beef up the fodder to ensure that milk and beef quality is maintained.

“The Government should make available to affected farmers low-interest loans to allow them purchase the fodder they need to feed their animals.

“It has been estimated that many farmers are forking out an additional €1000 per week just to keep their animals fed.

“The banks involved in this loan scheme must also be told not to make farmers jump through any unnecessary hoops when applying for these loans.

“Farmers are under severe financial pressure; that’s widely accepted and known, but what is not being spoken about is the severe mental health pressure that farmers are facing as a result of the current situation.

“Minister Creed has taken an age to accept that there is a problem with fodder in this country; he cannot waste any more time in ensuring that farmers can access the credit they need to continue feeding their animals and ensuring that Irish consumers can continue to purchase Irish reared meat,” concluded Cahill.