Fodder shortage needs to be addressed at European level – MEP

The current fodder crisis is a European-wide problem that needs to be addressed at European level as well as at national level, according to Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament.

Speaking earlier today (Monday, August 13), the MEP said drought is causing severe problems for farmers, not just in Ireland but in the Nordic region and Baltic countries.

“Hence, I will be raising the need for a European response when the parliament returns later this month,” she said.

“In fact, for many countries this is the third year in a row in which they are experiencing severe drought conditions.

The situation is such that we cannot assume that Ireland will readily be able to import sufficient fodder.

Adding to this, McGuinness said the situation points to the need to at least maintain the current EU agriculture budget.

CAP budget cut on the cards

“Currently, a cut in the budget is on the cards with some member states unwilling to commit more money to fund new policy initiatives, leading to post Brexit pressure on the CAP budget.

“I will be insisting that such an approach needs to be reviewed given the weather-related problems besetting large parts of EU agriculture,” she said.

Higher costs on farmers and lower yields point to lower incomes on farms and related stress and pressure on farm families, she warned.

‘There’s a lot of pressure out there’

Speaking to AgriLand at the Tullamore Show yesterday, McGuinness said: “It’s been a difficult year for farmers.

“There’s a lot of pressure out there; I’m getting calls from farm women for example who are just worried about the household bills and the education costs that are coming up because of the drought and the knock-on consequences on costs.

And if people are under pressure – mental health pressures – they need to talk and they need to go for help.

“And financial pressures have to be dealt with too, so I’d appeal to banks – I know the co-ops are certainly taking this into account, but everybody needs to be mindful that this community are particularly impacted by weather that they have no control over and there has to be some allowance made for that.

“Now, having said all of that, we’re having great chats here [at the Tullamore Show] and people are in good form despite the background that’s going on around fodder.

McGuinness also highlighted the challenging uncertainty surrounding Brexit, adding: “I have no news to give on that, which I regret to say; there’s no developments and we’re approaching next March rather rapidly.”

The MEP said: “Farming is so important to this countryside, so important to rural Ireland that we have to plan for its survival; but more important than just survival, we have to make sure that farm families actually make a decent living from the land – and a lot of them are not doing that.”