FF ‘hardship fund’ could result in ‘just a €12 top-up’ per farmer

The suggested €1.5 million budget for Fianna Fail’s proposed ‘hardship fund’ could result in just a €12 top-up per farmer, according to Fine Gael TD Pat Deering.

Deputy Deering was speaking last night in the Dail as a motion – brought forward by Fianna Fail – calling on the Government to take immediate action to remedy the fodder crisis was discussed.

Also Read: Fianna Fail’s fodder crisis motion to be put to a vote

Commenting on the matter, he said: “If €1.5 million will address this issue, I have huge concerns about it.

If you were to look at the number of farmers who applied for a single farm payment last year, there were 120,000 approximately. If they all looked for some money out of that €1.5 million; that is €12, approximately, per farmer that we are going to give to them – is that fair?

“If we only looked at the amount of farmers that availed of the scheme in 2013 – between 18,000 and 20,000 – that will equate to about €83 per farmer.

“So we’ve got to be honest with ourselves; do we want to give farmers a measly amount of €83 or put a structure in place that’s going to deal with this for the future?” he added.

‘Amazing lack of detail’

Meanwhile, the fodder crisis motion was also criticised for its “lack of detail” by Fine Gael TD Peter Burke – an elected representative for the Longford-Westmeath constituency.

Addressing the floor, he said: “This motion is very, very bland; its lack of detail is absolutely amazing.”

He started out by questioning the second line of the motion, which states: “Dail Eireann notes the unique vulnerability and exposure of agriculture to fluctuations in the weather.”

However, the midlands TD argued there has been significantly higher than normal rainfall accumulations experienced in parts of the country during the first three months of 2018 and that soil temperatures have been below the 6º required to encourage grass growth.

Despite this, the motion “firmly places the blame on the Government” and includes “nothing about sustainable solutions”, deputy Burke said.

You asked for hardship funds; there’s detail of medium-sized farms and small farms. But there’s no detail of what the criteria is or no details of costings for it – it’s devoid of any detail.

“What we need is real, sustainable solutions. The minister has clearly shown, number one, that he is prepared to change when change is needed; that was clearly detailed in the fodder transport scheme – he wasn’t afraid to do that.

“Secondly, in terms of the money that he has put behind this problem, fodder is coming into the country; work is being done; the minister is working hard on this.

“When we are putting forward solutions and talking in this house; they have to be credible, they have to be fair and they have to be sustainable,” he said.