Fianna Fail continues to push for implementation of ‘hardship fund’

Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fail spokesperson on agriculture, continued his push for the implementation of a hardship fund at today’s National Ploughing Championships.

Speaking to AgriLand, he said: “I think it is something that definitely needs to be considered. What we are calling for is a ‘hardship fund’ to cover issues such as meal and farmers that are under particular financial pressure over the months ahead.”

McConalogue highlighted that there is a “real difficulty” with liquidity and finances on farms at the moment.

“Many are carrying merchant debt from the very difficult year we’ve had – even going back to the fodder crisis last spring.”

He added: “That certainly means that farmers are going to be under immense financial pressure and Fianna Fail believes there needs to be a two-pronged approach from the minster to that.

“First of all, we need to ensure that we see a loan scheme specifically developed by the Government under the SBCI (Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland) at low interest rates to assist farmers with credit, dealing with existing merchant debt, but also with the pressures that they are going to be experiencing over the months ahead.”

Secondly, he added, that some farmers will need some direct support and this may be in the form of meal vouchers or other supports.

“We believe there needs to be a ‘hardship fund’ put in place to help farmers in that category. Undoubtedly, as we go into the winter, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on farmers and we need to see the minister – in the budget and over the coming weeks – ensure that the support is there for them.”