Fianna Fail’s fodder motion passed in the Dail

A motion relating to the fodder crisis brought forward by Fianna Fail earlier this week has been passed in the Dail today.

The motion was discussed at length on Tuesday night (April 17) and it received plenty of cross-party support from Sinn Fein, Labour, the Green Party and various independent TDs.

Following the debate, it was decided that the motion – along with certain amendments – would be put to a vote on Thursday, April 18.

This afternoon, the results of the vote have meant that the motion has been passed.

During the course of the debate earlier this week, the extent of the fodder crisis facing farmers across the country was highlighted by opposition TDs from right across the country.

Many of those that spoke claimed that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and his department were “asleep at the wheel” and were unprepared for the current fodder crisis.

However, in response, the minister said: “I don’t accept the premise of the motion that serves a particular political narrative that I have been slow to react.

I don’t accept that last September or October that this was a crisis we could envisage for April of this year. I want to make the point that we have acted in the department at all times in appropriate and measured ways.

What does the motion call for?

The motion itself calls for the introduction of a meal voucher scheme, the setting up of a hardship fund, the immediate issuing of outstanding scheme payments as well the establishment of a standing committee to monitor fodder supplies in the future.

Speaking earlier this week, Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, said: “Unfortunately, the Government has been caught totally cold in relation to the response on this issue.

“The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, spent most of the winter denying that there was any problem with a fodder shortage in the country, despite the fact that Fianna Fail and the farming organisations warned him on several occasions that he needed to be prepared and that he needed to acknowledge the fact that there was a difficulty.”

The motion brought forward by Fianna Fail calls on the Government to:
  • Immediately bring forward a hardship fund to help small and medium-sized farmers who have been severely impacted by the fodder crisis;
  • Introduce a meal voucher scheme for farmers affected;
  • Swiftly make available low-cost credit for farmers to help pay for the costs of sourcing fodder and concentrates, while immediately finalising and opening the low-cost loan scheme announced over six months ago in Budget 2018;
  • Ensure all balancing payments for outstanding 2017 RDP scheme payments – such as the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme and the Sheep Welfare Scheme – are paid immediately, as farmers’ cash-flow problems mount;
  • Dedicate a budget to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Early Warning System, which supports farmers at a local level, before any welfare problems occur;
  • Establish a special standing committee composed of relevant stakeholders to monitor and report to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine quarterly, to keep fodder supplies under review with fail-safe measures to ensure that such a crisis does not emerge again;
  • Temporarily halt all Cross Compliance inspections on farms, as well as Bord Bia farm audits;
  • Include a permanent scheme in the RDP to compensate farmers for losses caused by adverse weather;
  • Show flexibility regarding the upcoming 2018 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) deadline.