Fianna Fail has launched its new 10-point emergency action plan to combat the fodder and income crisis for farmers at the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co. Offaly.

Spokesperson on Agriculture and Food, Charlie McConalogue said that his party is standing with rural communities and farming families by once more highlighting the “inept policy response by Government” to the fodder crisis that has quickly morphed into an income crisis.

Hardship fund

“The Government must at once bring forward a nationally-financed hardship fund to help farmers who have been severely impacted by the fodder crisis, escalating costs, falling cattle prices and extreme weather conditions all year.

This would provide funding to support farmers sourcing feed and fodder and deal with mounting input costs, McConalogue contends.

“While Minster Creed has secured enhanced flexibility from the EU on the GLAS scheme, Irish farmers, who are quite simply living on the breadline, have only received token additional funding when compared to farmers in other countries.

For example, the Swedish government is helping its struggling farmers by allocating €117 million to cover feed shortages for livestock and income loss. Germany is committing over €300 million to its farmers in supports.

Party food and horticulture spokesperson Jackie Cahill added: “Farmers’ cash flow is already under severe pressure and low-cost credit is critical to helping them survive.

“Therefore, the Government must immediately introduce a new low interest fodder and income loan crisis fund to help farmers pay down debts incurred.

Loan scheme

“Delivery to date on the €25 million low-cost Brexit loan scheme for farmers and fishermen, announced in October 2017, has been inept to say the least. The fact that it has yet to be opened tells its own story.

Irish farmers are in the midst of a national emergency putting a huge strain on their mental health and creating animal welfare issues.

“This crisis once more shows how out of touch Fine Gael is with rural Ireland with no urgency shown in bringing forwarding solutions,” concluded Cahill.