INHFA takes to the street over fodder transport ‘shambles’ and GLAS

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) held a protest over the fodder aid package announced by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed this morning (Monday, February 12).

The demonstration also called on Minister Creed to issue overdue GLAS payments to cash-strapped farmers, according to the organisation.

The protest was held outside the Department of Agriculture offices in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, where INHFA members vented their anger at a “pure shambles“, according to the association’s president, Colm O’Donnell.

Image source: Brian Farrell

O’Donnell read out a letter which called on the minister to reconvene the Fodder Action Group to address the “many inconsistencies and problems” with the subsidy – designed by his department and the co-operatives.

“This package was not what was proposed by the stakeholders’ action group and – to give credibility and confidence back to the forum set up by Minister Creed – he must now call those stakeholders back to adjust elements of the package to make it workable for affected farmers.

“We have outlined in the letter the steps that must be taken,” the president added.

The actions called for by the INHFA include:
  • A meal voucher scheme to be introduced, which was the unanimous recommendation by the stakeholders’ action group;
  • Licenced hauliers who traditionally source quality fodder to be involved in the transport subsidy scheme;
  • The 100km zone to source fodder to be changed;
  • Local agri stores to be added to the scheme where there is no co-op in the area – the nearest co-op to Connemara is over 50 miles away (80km), for example, the INHFA says;
  • Square bales of hay and straw to be included in the scheme, because farmers with environmental restrictions on their farms can only feed square bales to out-wintered livestock;
  • The Department of Agriculture must cover the cost of fodder assessment by approved advisors.

Speaking on the “non-payment of GLAS to thousands of farmers”, O’Donnell said: “It’s totally unacceptable that farmers are now almost three months waiting for their money since the minister announced the issuing of GLAS payments – which is a breach of the Farmers’ Charter of Rights.”

Concluding, the INHFA president said: “Farmers have enough problems of their own trying to run a business without a proper rural broadband service.”

He called on the minister to fix the IT problems once and for all and to pay farmers on time.