Farmer organisations react to fodder meeting at Agriculture House

Irish farm organisations have given their reactions to this morning’s meeting (Thursday, April 12) with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on the issue of the ongoing fodder crisis.

The meeting took place in Dublin, at Agriculture House.

ICSA

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) president Patrick Kent has said he is disappointed that Minister Creed is not “moving heaven and earth” to introduce a low-interest loan scheme for farmers.

“Cashflow difficulties are crucifying cattle and sheep farmers who have used up all their credit facilities at this point.”

Continuing, Kent said: “The latest advice from Teagasc is to get fertiliser out as soon as possible. However, they are failing to understand the true extent of the precarious position many farmers are in. These are farmers who don’t receive a monthly cheque and, with credit limits already overshot buying in meal, many are unable to secure credit for fertiliser supplies.”

Small and medium sized farming enterprises have an immediate need for working capital.

“ICSA has impressed upon Minister Creed that working capital of up to €10,000 for as many farmers as possible demands urgent consideration if farmers are to have any chance of coming out of this crisis in one piece.”

ICMSA

Meanwhile, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack has said that, while progress is seemingly being made on actual availability of fodder, there is disappointment on the decision not to retrospectively include farmers who had sourced fodder between the 50km and 100km limits recently amended by the minister.

The president also expressed frustration at the decision not to suspend inspections while the crisis was ongoing and in the wake of the recent extreme weather events.

“We focused initially on the need for the minister to retrospectively amend the fodder scheme to make it more inclusive; there’s the question of securing the necessary shipping space for the fodder lorries, as well as the obvious need for inspections to be suspended until some degree of farm normality is restored.

“We asked that the low-interest loans be rolled out as quickly as possible,” the president noted, adding that banks should be more flexible with farmers in light of recent conditions.

“There are several issues that we think the minister could – and should – take immediate action on. But the reality is that Irish farming is facing an unprecedented number of problems right now and is going to have to be nursed through what is going to be a very difficult period just up ahead,” McCormack said.

IFA

On a related issue on fodder, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) – following representations made by the organisation – the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has agreed to “adopt a pragmatic approach when reviewing drivers’ hours compliance with driving and resting time periods”, in respect of delivery and collection of animal fodder.

IFA Environment chairman Thomas Cooney said: “The measures have been working well for the last week and are set to continue until April 20.

“However, if this poor weather continues, there is a real probability that the RSA may need to extend this helpful approach.”

The unexpected circumstances endured by farmers continue to make it impossible to turn out stock and work the land at this time.

This is delaying the spreading of crop nutrients, which will further impact on growth and fodder supplies later in the season, he said.

“Early decisions are also now required from Government regarding slurry spreading deadlines and other such calendar related regulations,” he concluded.