National ‘fodder crisis’ rally on this weekend

A national rally is being organised by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) “to highlight the need for action on the fodder crisis and address how additional funding for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) Scheme will be directed”.

The rally is scheduled for next Friday night, December 1, at the Sligo Southern Hotel, Co. Sligo; it will begin at 8:00pm.

National president Colm O’Donnell outlined the need to have a fodder aid package in place before Christmas. He added: “How many farmers will be facing into 2018 with most or all of their fodder supplies used up as a result of the early feeding of livestock and their inability to harvest a second cut due to excessive rainfall.

Many farmers are facing into their fourth month of feeding, with another five still to come and what they need to see is recognition from Minister Creed that there is a crisis and a plan in the form of a fodder scheme to help them.

As it currently stands, O’Donnell noted: “A considerable amount of time has been lost denying the need for a fodder aid scheme, while farmers struggled both physically and mentally as they attempt to provide enough feed for their livestock.”

In the INHFA’s pre-budget submission the association sought an aid package to include a meal voucher scheme, a transport haulage subsidy and a monitoring role for Teagasc. This, the president said, “can provide the basis for a fodder aid scheme, but immediate action is required in order to advert animal welfare issues in early 2018”.

The national rally will also address how best to direct the additional €25 million funding for the ANC Scheme, the farming group says.

This extra funding was announced by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, in the budget estimates for 2018 in October. O’Donnell said that the funds should “be targeted to the farmers whose lands have the highest level of natural constraints”.

This, the president added, would start to address the “current imbalance in the methodology used” in calculating the level of payments for each land type.

This should also acknowledge the extra costs incurred and income forgone for these farmers as a direct result of the level of handicap experienced in their farming systems.

O’Donnell concluded by encouraging all farmers to attend the meeting – stating how their attendance will send a strong message to the minister, Government and all the public representatives who have been invited to attend.