Creed urged to rethink fodder support scheme following Storm Emma

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has been urged to rethink the fodder support scheme following Storm Emma.

Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has called on the minister to convene a meeting next week with his officials and farming organisations to discuss the best way to support farmers in the aftermath of the extreme weather conditions which have recently swept across the country.

Commenting on the matter, the Donegal TD said: “Practically every farmer in the country has been affected by the severe weather that has hit Ireland over the past few days.

We are in the middle of lambing and calving season, and animals which would normally be out in the fields have remained indoors – this is creating a difficultly for farmers who may be running low on feed.

“Minister Creed was forced to establish a fodder fund for farmers affected by adverse weather last year; however, the fund he announced was extremely limited.

“I am urging him to revise his current position, and expand that scheme to include meal vouchers and other payments, given the difficulty that farmers are now in as a result of the current exceptional conditions.

“Many farmers were already struggling to cope in the face of high fodder prices and they will be put to the pin of their collar as they deal with the current situation,” he said.

As well as this, Deputy McConalogue urged farmers to continue to stay safe and ensure that they take all the necessary precautions when they are carrying out their essential work.

Voucher system

Similarly, Sinn Fein Senator Rose Conway-Walsh has called on the minister to introduce an emergency fodder voucher system.

She said: “It is very clear across rural communities that the transport scheme for fodder has not worked for most farmers. The red tape involved in this half-hearted effort to meet the needs of farmers has failed to deliver a viable scheme.

Having to engage a farm advisor and purchase through co-ops has resulted in an increased cost of fodder.

“Vouchers need to be provided through the co-ops and feed merchants. Teagasc have already collected data on farmers’ needs which has identified areas most at risk.

“This would guarantee the quality of the feed available, providing a high level of nutrition for livestock – rather than relying on the variable qualities of silage and hay being transported now.

“The vast majority of farmers will only apply for what they need to feed their livestock. A voucher limit can be set for each herd owner linked to their individual herd number,” she said.

Also Read: Fodder scheme issues clarified as meal voucher ruled out

In the past, Minister Creed has acknowledged that there are certain pockets of the country which are suffering from a fodder shortage – but, he outlined that there are sufficient fodder supplies in other parts of Ireland which can be transported to alleviate the problem in affected areas.

In response, the Fodder Transport Support Measure was introduced earlier this year to subsidise the transport of fodder – at varying rates – once the transport distance exceeds 100km.

The minister has also consistently ruled out the possibility of any meal voucher system being put in place, despite repeated calls for such a measure to be implemented.