‘Farmers are going hungry to feed their animals’ – FRG

The fodder crisis is seeing some farmers going hungry to feed their animals, according to Thomas Gunning, managing director of the Irish Family Farm Rights Group (FRG).

“Farmers are putting the welfare of their animals before themselves. At the moment, some farmers are short of fodder and they are going hungry themselves to feed their animals, as banks have no mercy,” said the suckler farmer from Williamstown, Co. Galway.

“We are very unhappy with the fodder scheme that has been put in place. The financial pressure on farmers has to have a major effect on rural Ireland: the GAA clubs; sporting organisations; schools; churches; local Garda stations; post offices; co-op stores; marts; and pubs.”

An excessive amount of rules and regulations is killing farming, Thomas contended.

Founded in December 2015, FRG mounted a national campaign for the removal of the four-movement rule for cattle enforced by meat processing plants.

Members petitioned farmers attending their local marts to support the campaign – which is ongoing – and have got almost 8,000 signatures to date.

The group has a vision of fairness at a time when everyone seems to be getting more out of farming than farmers, Thomas explained. “Many farmers believe that the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payments were divided up unfairly,” he said.

“There is a feeling that farmers are being treated like criminals. Many are afraid to stand up because of the fear of being penalised with department inspections and the like,” Thomas contended.

“From being out on the road we know that a lot of farmers believe that farming is now a harsh life because there are so many people on their back.

They don’t want their sons or daughters to take over from them.

“My own daughter is an engineer. She loved farming but I advised her to stay away from it.

“Farmers want to educate their sons and daughters to get away from farming. This is coming at a very high cost to many farmers as they can barely afford to put food on the table,” Thomas said.

The group has also campaigned on the cost of keeping a suckler cow which, it said, is driving farmers to get out of farming.

The suckler sector is in serious need of support. There is too much dairy breeding coming into the suckler herd which is affecting the quality of cattle. We are going to destroy the suckler herd. Everyone is going to dairy and we are putting all our eggs in one basket.

The group – which has members around the country – has met with the Department of Agriculture, and has arranged to meet Minister Creed shortly, Thomas said. “We have funded the group from our own pocket up to now as we felt no one was speaking up for farmers.

“It’s only the big farmers that are being looked after. If you give it another 20 years, it will be very easy to count the number of farmers left in the country,” he said.

“The work of our group means that the small to medium farmer feels for the first time that they are being represented. We are meeting them at marts and meetings all over the country.”

The next meeting of the FRG will take place in the Mulroy Woods Hotel, Milford, Co. Donegal, on Wednesday, February 21 at 8:00pm.