Minister confirms the Tillage Forum is to meet in two weeks

The next meeting of the Tillage Stakeholders Forum is to take place on February 16, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has confirmed.

The issue of a tillage crisis fund is expected to be on the top of the agenda at the forum.

In his concluding remarks to the last forum last October, the Minister said that he reiterated his view that in the changing international economic landscape a fresh look is needed at the industry to ensure that it is best positioned to withstand future challenges and to avail of new opportunities which may present themselves.

This forum will provide an opportunity for all to work together to evaluate further measures for the long-term sustainability of the tillage sector.

The Minister has come under increasing pressure from farm organisations and opposition bench TDs over the past number of months to provide a crisis tillage fund for farmers who were hit with severe crop losses last harvest as a result of inclement weather.

Last month, a Fianna Fail motion was passed in Dail Eireann by 87 votes to 49 to provide a fund or compensation scheme for those affected farmers.

Speaking following the passing of the motion, Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, said that the onus is now on the Minister to establish such a fund.

In principle the Minister is coming around to the idea. He now needs to follow through on how a scheme might be structured.

Meanwhile, speaking following an IFA protest outside the Department of Agriculture HQ in Dublin last month, IFA President Joe Healy said that there is a groundswell of support for those tillage farmers who incurred significant weather losses during last year’s harvest.

IFA has also requested the Minister to direct Teagasc to conduct its own assessment and verify the IFA’s results in order to clear the way for an early announcement on the emergency aid package.

Healy said the agenda for the Tillage Forum must also address the need to implement an action plan to tackle the serious and deepening income crisis affecting grain growers and the wider tillage sector.