Creed seeks EU help to make ‘significant lands’ available for fodder conservation

The European Commission may consider making a “significant amount of land available” for the conservation of fodder, following a request lodged by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

According to a spokesperson for Minister Creed, a request has been formally made to the commission asking for “the relaxing of a number of conditions” that could potentially make large swathes of land accessible in order to deal with acute concerns regarding fodder reserves.

Last week, results from the Interagency Fodder Committee’s latest census on available fodder stocks found that currently there is an estimated national fodder deficit of 28%.

The results – based on a survey of over 1,000 farmers from across a range of enterprises – showed a variation across the regions.

A 12% deficit was recorded in counties Roscommon, Longford, Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal; while up to a 30% deficit was marked in parts of west Cork.

This morning, a spokesperson for Minister Creed stated the following:

Having outlined the problems currently being faced by Irish farmers owing to the prolonged winter of 2017/2018; and the continuing summer drought conditions at last week’s European Council of Ministers meeting, Minister Creed has now formally written to the commission seeking support for the relaxing of a number of conditions – which could potentially make a significant amount of land available for the conservation of fodder.

“The minister has previously requested that the commission ensure the earliest approval of advance direct support payments this autumn in order to support farmers to cope with this prolonged challenging period.

Also Read: ‘Advanced BPS and ANC payments will be made as soon as permissible’

“Minister Creed is also scheduled to meet with the pillar banks this week to discuss the difficult situation,” the spokesperson said, adding that the advisory helpline for farmers continues to be available, providing direct access to Teagasc advisors at: 087-7971377 between 9:00am and 9:00pm.

EU-wide drought crisis

Last week, Sweden was successful in its application to the commission requesting an advance on its rural support to be increased from 75% to 85% in order to mitigate the serious impact of the drought on Swedish farmers.

Speaking after a meeting with Commissioner Hogan, Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht said the commission’s support on the measure “will be a solid liquidity shower for agriculture and will help in this difficult situation”.

While addressing journalists after last week’s Council of EU Agriculture Ministers meeting in Brussels, Commissioner Hogan was asked about the possibility of the commission implementing a “crisis reserve” for member states in light of the widescale problem.

In response to a question on the issue from a Swedish reporter Commissioner Hogan said: “I don’t think too many member states mentioned a crisis reserve today; maybe Sweden did, but it’s not possible now to implement a regulation if involved now for this year.

We have gone too far in the year for it to have an impact on farmers’ incomes for 2018. So, this is why I’m using the tools that are available to me that would make a difference to farmers’ incomes and cash flow, which is the advanced payments.

“And which of course is to make land lying fallow to be able to be grazed, as well as to be used for fodder purposes to overcome the very difficult drought situation in Sweden.

“Swedish Minister Sven-Erik Bucht has been very active with me on the issue in recent meetings and I hope what I’ve announced today will be helpful to Swedish farmers,” he said.