Cautious welcome for fodder scheme

Flooding

There has been a mixed reaction to the Government's response to the fodder crisis arising out of the ongoing flooding of farm land.

While Deputy Noel Coonan welcomed the €2m fodder scheme announced last week, the leader of one farm group has raised concerns that it may not be enough.

“The scheme will provide vital relief for farmers in Tipperary whose fodder has been destroyed in recent flooding,” said the Fine Gael TD.

The scheme will apply to the loss of silage, hay, straw and concentrates where there is evidence of damage caused by flooding and where the losses are not covered by insurance.

“I encourage farmers in Tipperary who have been affected by the floods to avail of this scheme. This scheme will target farmers impacted by flooding who will be offered support based on the replacement costs of fodder damaged on their holding,” he said.

However, ICSA president Patrick Kent has cautiously welcomed the announcement of additional funding for those most affected by flooding.

Mr Kent questioned whether there will be sufficient funds to cover the widespread damage.

“Farmers have been calling for urgent practical and financial help so our hope would be that these schemes will be delivered promptly to those in need.”

However, “a more comprehensive compensation fund similar to the UK’s Farming Recovery Fund would assist a greater number of farmers struggling to recover their livelihoods”, he said.

In addition, Mr Kent said that to prevent future flooding, funding must be made available to increase the capacity of the lower Shannon between the lakes and the ocean. De-silting and dredging needed to be carried out to remove impediments and get the floodwaters moving more efficiently out to sea.

“I once again call in to question the ESB’s ability to independently manage the levels of water in the Shannon,” he said.

Mr Kent said the introduction of a flood management coordination agency was a step in the right direction.

“Nevertheless, I am concerned that it could be bogged down in bureaucratic wrangling between the different agencies. We have heard a lot of this before, action was promised and not delivered upon.

“Difficult and expensive decisions on flood prevention requires real political will to overcome environmental objectors and financial constraints. It remains to be seen if that political will exists,” said Mr Kent.

Meanwhile, application forms for the scheme are available on the Department of Agriculture website and from the Department’s local office network.

Application forms will also be available from Teagasc offices where advisors will continue to provide one to one advice to those impacted by flooding.

In order to assess applications, on-farm visits will be undertaken by Department of Agriculture personnel to confirm the quantities of fodder lost due to the flooding. The closing date for applications will be Friday, January 22.