Creed brushes independent TD’s fodder ‘rant’ aside

As the Dail sat for the final time before the summer recess last week, fodder issues were a hot topic of debate.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, was called upon to answer a number of questions relating to the current dry spell and fodder issues affecting farmers.

However, the minister seemed to lose patience with independent TD Mattie McGrath – stating that the Tipperary TD had “ranted about the issue” without suggesting “one single constructive proposal”.

Deputy McGrath asked the minister to highlight what measures he was going to put in place to deal with the “impending shortages” of fodder in the coming months.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath

But the independent TD was not satisfied when the minister outlined that a fodder stakeholder group had been set up, along with a dedicated helpline manned by Teagasc advisors, and that a national fodder census was being carried out – among other measures.

A second census is scheduled to take place in September.

Also Read: Census results: Estimates of national fodder deficit now at 28%

Speaking in the Dail, deputy McGrath said: “The time for censuses and counting is over; that is only waffle. We can see that the fields are barren. They will hardly get much growth back now. We need real, cohesive action.

Counting the amount of fodder in September is quite plainly an insult to farmers, because they have opened the silage pits and are feeding their animals with what they had saved in the first cut.

“If the second cut grew, it is wilting. I saw them cutting it last week because it was melting away. They had to bring it in earlier than usual and more of them are cutting grass to feed the cows on a daily basis.

“Counting is an insult to farmers; they need support,” he said.

Continuing, deputy McGrath argued that there is nothing left to count “apart from stock that are hungry”.

‘Respond accordingly’

In response, Minister Creed stressed that he is “anxious to work in a collaborative fashion with all those who have something positive to offer or contribute”.

He reiterated the fact that he has convened a stakeholder group – which represents farmers, the banking industry, the co-op movement and the advisory service.

“All of the appropriate stakeholders, including my department, are in there. They are all working earnestly to try to find a solution to a difficult problem.

The last thing we need in this difficult period is an unfocused, scattergun approach to the issue. That is why it is important to be able to measure and respond accordingly.

“Taking a census now and another in September will give us the knowledge bank with which to make informed decisions,” he said.

Concluding, Minister Creed said: “We can all make noise about the matter; this requires focused concentration on solutions.”