Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has called on the Government to ensure adequate resources are made available to deal with the ongoing fodder crisis which still continues despite the improved weather conditions this week.
Deputy Ó Cuív has also called for a dedicated unit to be established to co-ordinate the response and in particular to ensure a similar fodder crisis does not happen again.
Fianna Fáil will bring a special motion before the Dáil this week calling for the establishment of the dedicated unit to ensure a quicker and more coherent response to the current crisis which has devastated the agriculture sector and continues to cause huge concern for farmers. The motion also calls for greater consultation and emergency measures to be put in place to deal with any future fodder shortage.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “For almost 6 weeks I have been calling for Minister Simon Coveney to take more decisive action on the crisis which has become progressively worse.
“While the fine weather over the past few days is a welcome change for farmers; they are still 6 weeks behind in grass and silage growth which will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the year and even into next year. Fields are still not closed off for silage growth and farmers are continuing to struggle with fodder shortages.
“Fodder is still being transported into Ireland from the UK and France and I am calling on the Minister to give a commitment to provide as much funding as is needed to extend the fodder transport scheme for as long as it is required..
“To help ease this burden on farmers; I am calling on the Minister to take a direct role in ensuring that payments are made for outstanding grants like the AEOS and REPS 4 in particular. Many of these payments have been cleared but there have been delays in farmers actually receiving the cash.
“Longer term plans must also be made to ensure adequate feeds are available for next year. To help with this, the Minister should defer the new rules in stocking density for Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) as it will now be extremely difficult for some farmers to meet those requirements due to the adverse weather conditions last summer and throughout the spring. Minister Coveney should also examine the possibility of making early payments for agricultural schemes this year.
“The fodder crisis is still affecting thousands of farmers and we must finally see a co-ordinated and decisive response from the Minister.”