Fianna Fail accuses Creed of abandoning weather-hit cereal growers

Fianna Fail Agriculture Spokesman Charlie McConalogue has accused the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed of abandoning those cereal growers who suffered heavy crop losses during this year’s harvest.

The minister’s sole response has been to establish a loan fund for all the farming sectors, he said.

“But this may not kick in until the early months of next year. In the meantime a small, but significant number of cereal growers, have been left in an impoverished situation because of almost non-existent cash flows.

“What’s required is the establishment of a specific crisis fund for these farmers, which they can draw down from as soon as possible.

“The tillage sector, generally, has been hit by poor prices over the past number of years. But for those farmers hit by the poor weather at this year’s harvest, the future looks extremely bleak.”

I have repeatedly raised the issue of a tillage crisis fund in the Dail over recent weeks. But Minister Creed has simply fobbed me off with me references to the loan fund.

McConalogue said that Teagasc has yet to come forward with an estimate of how much crop damage was created at harvest time.

“But I would be fairly confident that the money involved is manageable, from the government’s point of view.

“I am not saying that a loan fund does not have a role to play, but, fundamentally, the affected cereal growers need money in their bank accounts now.”

McConalogue confirmed that the French government has raised the issue of a tillage crisis fund for its own farmers with Brussels.

“Our own Minister could have joined forces with the French on this matter, but refused to do so.  I cannot understand this approach.

“Farmers will now be forced to look elsewhere for funding to keep their businesses afloat. It is deeply unfair that they may have to go to banks and other financial institutions and increase their credit burdens to ensure that they make it through the winter.

“The Minister has a duty to intervene and is blatantly abdicating this obligation,” he said.