IFA occupies department over clarification on tillage crisis fund

An occupation of the Department of Agriculture is underway as members of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) Grain Committee demand clarity on the details of the tillage crisis fund.

The committee is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, after there were conflicting media reports over the value of the cap on the proposed support fund.

Reports have put the cap at anywhere between €5,000 and €15,000. The association has been lobbying for the fund for tillage farmers who lost crops in the 2016 harvest after severe weather conditions.

According to a statement from the committee, certain aspects of the scheme that have been reported in the media “would not be acceptable to the IFA”.

IFA President Joe Healy said a number of meetings have been held with the department, which had committed to another meeting once the draft scheme had been prepared.

The committee held a meeting earlier today, July 5, where chairman Liam Dunne said members were concerned about the “selective information” that has been published in the media.

Dunne said: “The details are totally unacceptable to the committee, as the scheme appears to be too narrow and restrictive. The reported budget may not be sufficient to cover the full extent of the losses incurred by farmers. Those farmers who are most affected must receive the most from the scheme.

“Given the financial pressure farmers have been under for almost a year as a result of lost crops, it is crucial that payments are made to farmers as soon as possible. It must be user-friendly and ensure that sufficient aid gets to those who deserve it.”

Dunne previously estimated that the average loss of crops to farmers was around 60%, although some may have lost 20% while “in some cases it was closer to 100%”.