‘Minister fiddles with rules while rural Ireland burns’ – McGrath

Farmers are being driven to the limits of their endurance, as the consequences of an unprecedented lack of available fodder kicks in, according to independent TD Mattie McGrath.

Deputy McGrath was speaking after he called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to immediately draw up and implement plans to deal with the issue – including the possible importation of dried fodder produce, such as irrigated alfalfa from Spain.

Criticising Minister Creed’s response to current conditions, the independent representative for Tipperary said: “The message on the ground from the farmers I am talking to is that Minister Creed has utterly failed to grasp the gravity of the crisis that is upon us.

“He is talking about writing to the EU Commission for an extension of available land for the sourcing of fodder, while ignoring the fact that the closing dates for fertiliser and slurry spreading are only a few weeks away.

Farmers simply do not have that kind of time. They are in the midst of a full-blown crisis that is going to have a severe and hugely detrimental impact on the food supply chain and indeed on the national herd.

Deputy McGrath sought a meeting with Minister Creed, stating: “I am calling on the minister to meet with myself and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group: Michael Collins; Dr. Michael Harty; and Michael Healy-Rae – where I can assure him we will leave him in no doubt about the scale of the emergency.”

Subsidising imported fodder

Meanwhile, the minister must consider possible short-term solutions – like subsidising imported fodder at €50/t, deputy McGrath explained.

“We know that Spain has ample reserves of dried fodder at the moment.

“The fear we have – however – is that the minister is so busy playing diplomatic niceties with the European Commission, that by the time he gets round to actually taking action, the French and continental farmers will have snapped up what dry fodder is currently available.

“Minister Creed must step out of his bubble, visit those areas that have been severely affected and see for himself what it is like when the first-cut silage is gone and the second cut is at best yielding only 25-35% outcomes,” deputy McGrath concluded.