‘Creed must move on low-cost loans ASAP’ – McCormack

The Government must “urgently follow up” on its latest announcement of a new €4.25 million Fodder Import Support Measure with loans news, a farm body leader has warned.

Earlier today, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, revealed the additional commitment designed to help secure adequate fodder supplies for the winter ahead.

This builds on a range of supports already put in place.

The measure – being introduced to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage (hay, silage, haylage, alfalfa etc) from abroad – will operate through the co-operatives / registered importers.

It will cover forage imported from August 12 to December 31 this year and it will be subject to EU State Aid rules.

‘Scramble’

Pat McCormack, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) welcomed the support as it “signalled” an engagement on the part of the Government.

However, he insisted that it “must be followed up urgently if a very, very serious crisis is to be avoided”.

The failure of crops all over Europe means that there is already a scramble underway to source and secure fodder that could be imported.

“The Irish Government must move immediately to source the fodder that we will undoubtedly require,” he said.

The ICMSA president identified securing that fodder as one of three measures that must form a co-ordinated response.

“In addition to sourcing and securing the fodder that we’ll have to import, we will need a real and concerted drive in live exports because we have to – as a matter of urgency – get animals out of farmers’ yards and out of the country.

That impetus must come from a range of agencies and departments, and the Government has to provide the momentum.

Low-cost loans

He stressed that the third measure that farmers urgently have to see right now is “the immediate roll-out” of the much-anticipated €25 million low-cost agri-loan scheme that was announced in Budget 2018.

“The low-cost loans that were promised previously have still not materialised,” said McCormack.

“The pressures on cash flow are now becoming acute and it’s not possible for individuals to balance income and outgoings where the latter are surging ahead due to the special circumstances.

“Minister Creed has to move on the loans and he has to do that ASAP,” he concluded.

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