Urgent Fodder Relief Scheme Needed

West Cavan County Councillor, John Paul Feeley has called on the Government to implement a Fodder Relief Scheme to assist farmers affected by the current severe weather and the un-parallel cost of animal feeds.

‘Spring 2013 has been an extension of Winter, remarkably low temperatures have prevented growth which farmers were relying on after the disastrous summer of last year and the unseasonable weather we have faced over the past 18 months. Minister Coveney must step in to provide practical and targeted assistance to farmers at this time if they, and their livestock are to survive.’

Raising the issue at the recent meeting of Cavan County Council, Councillor Feeley pointed out that in areas such as West Cavan it would be common to buy in fodder from other parts of the country but the summer of 2012 has meant that other farmers have no surplus fodder to sell. The quality of the hay and silage in 2012 was disastrous. All of these factors together with the un-precedent high prices of grains have left farmers facing a crisis.

‘We cannot expect the Government to change the weather but the Government must move to assist the people who are the bed-rock of our most important indigenous industry. In 2008 in similar circumstance, the then Government put in place a scheme to assist farmers and this Government must do likewise.’

Referring to the overall situation facing famers, Councillor Feeley pointed  to the changes made by the Minister for Social Welfare, Joan Burton TD to the Farm Assist Scheme which have made it virtually impossible for farmers, already struggling to make ends meet access support. The Fianna Fáil Councillor also noted that over 8,000 applications for the Disadvantaged Area Scheme for 2012 remain unpaid in April of 2013 and applicants for the Agri-Environment Options Scheme have not been told if their application has been successful. Councillor Feeley called on Government to address these issues also with a view to providing stability to farmers at this time. He also called on the Minister to insist that Department of Agriculture Inspectors take a practical and common sense approach during on-farm inspections and show appropriate understanding if farmers are trying to deal with the challenges posed by the lack of quality fodder.

Speaking at Cavan County Council’s monthly meeting, Councillor Feeley’s motion received support from all members.  Councillor Feeley emphasised that a cash injection was needed to address the huge problems faced by the farming community at this time and called on Teagasc to publish a detailed report on the situation in each county that could form the basis for Government action.

‘All farm organisations have called for assistance for farmers. Teagasc have established a Fodder Crisis Task Force. Minister Coveney and the Fine Gael/Labour Government have acknowledged the problem. It’s now time for them to act and I am calling on them to put in place a proper targeted Scheme to give famers in difficulty the money they need to feed their animals. The Government have a template in the Scheme introduced by then Minister Joe Walshe in 1998 all that is lacking in the political will.’