Pressure looks set to increase on the Government today to provide a crisis fund for tillage farmers who were severely affected by crop losses last autumn as Fianna Fail brings a Private Members’ motion to the Dail floor.
Speaking on the plinth at Leinster House this morning, Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, said that the overall funding needed is relatively small in scale.
“The estimation of the fund is about €4-5m. We talking about 200-300 farmers that were affected. The money is certainly there, it’s not an issue of funding.”
This year in particular the harvest was unprecedented and western counties were affected by unusual rainfall which meant that for many farmers 25-50% of their crop was lost.
“This is an issue that Fianna Fail has been campaigning on since the Ploughing Championships since it because clear that there was a crisis in the sector.”
McConalogue said that the Government has not recognised the plight of these tillage farmers, until now, and recognised the fact that there’s a real need for a compensation fund to ensure they can meet bill payments and to stay in business.
“The money is within the Department of Agriculture to provide for this. There was an €86m underspend last year in relation to the Department’s budget. So, the facility is there and the capacity is there.
“Unfortunately the will is not there by the Minister and the Government to actually introduce this.”
We are hoping that through our motion today, that the Government will recognise the fact that this is necessary, finally listen to the voice on the plight of these farmers and instate a fund.
McConalogue said that Fianna Fail has been engaged with the Minister over the last number of weeks and months on the issue and until now, he has refused to put a fund in place.
“I hope in the course of the debate today that they do recognise what we’re saying.”
Today’s Private Members’ motion coincides with an IFA protest outside the gates of the Dail to increase the pressure on the Government for a fund for tillage farmers.