Minister Michael Creed is being called on to reintroduce support measures relating to crop loss during inclement weather, to assist growers affected by wet conditions at harvest.
Mattie McGrath, an independent TD for Tipperary, said the minister should “urgently consider” reintroducing the Weather-Related Crop Loss Support Measure Scheme.
The measure was introduced in July 2017 following adverse conditions during the harvest period in 2016. It consisted of targeted supports for crop losses. Minister Creed has previously said, back in 2018, that the scheme was a “one-off measure” relating specifically to the 2016 harvest.
No one can be in any doubt that recent and sometimes prolonged periods of heavy rain have threatened the viability of many farm operations.
“In fact, when [the scheme] launched in 2016, the minister himself acknowledged that wet weather is particularly problematic for cereal farmers in terms of harvest and yield losses,” McGrath argued.
“The previous scheme had a very small budget of €1.5 million. This was supposed to provide a financial contribution towards the cost of spring cereal crop losses, in excess of 30% by yield, experienced by growers,” he added.
The Tipperary TD claimed that some payments under this scheme are still outstanding today.
Information I have obtained from the department shows, however, that there were just 167 applicants in 2017. 90 were paid, 60 were rejected, 21 appealed and four of these were successful [these are included in the 90].
“The other 17 are still outstanding with the department, awaiting requested documentation,” McGrath said.
The TD concluded: “The minister needs to explore all options in terms of advancing target supports to farmers. That is why I have made this call; so that those most affected by the recent rain and wet weather can tap into immediate levels of support to keep them going.”
The wet conditions at the moment have affected the potato harvest, which has come to a halt again due to the weather.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) estimates that between 50% and 70% of potatoes have been lifted.