Deputy Jackie Cahill
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, Jackie Cahill has said Irish farming faces destruction unless the Government intervenes to deal with the growing lack of fodder on Irish farmers.
“I don’t make this prediction lightly but the situation is stark for farmers, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that will limit the risk to animals and farmers.
“We have been in an extended fodder crisis for nearly six months. Recent wet weather and now an extended warm weather period has both depleted current stocks and reduced the ability of farmers to save fodder for the coming winter.
“Minister Creed has been sleepwalking from one crisis to another in his department over the past 12 months. He seems either ignorant of the challenges or unwilling to do anything about them.
“However, there are things that can be done to deal with both the immediate challenges and to prepare for the coming winter and spring period. We need flexibility from the Government. The current supply of feed is being used up at an extraordinary rate, and if something isn’t done, animals will suffer and farmers will lose their livelihoods.
“There are five things that I, and Fianna Fáil, believe must happen immediately:
1. The Department must incentivise tillage farmers to grow catch crops such as kale and turnips rather than planting more winter cereals. This will deliver more food for animals later in 2018.
2. Extend the deadlines for the spreading of chemical fertilisers and slurry to allow grass to keep growing and for farmers to keep animals out longer.
3. Start importing and storing fodder from overseas to prepare for winter and spring. Waiting till later in the year will only see farmers paying higher prices.
4. The Minister must seek to open new markets for 18 month plus beef. These animals should be finished off indoors but there is a worry that there won’t be the feed needed.
5. Roll out the low-cost credit facilities promised by Minister Creed in Budget 2018 this year. Farmers’ cash flow is already under severe pressure, and low-cost credit is critical to helping this survive
“Additionally, to ensure fairness, factories must be monitored to ensure fair pricing for farmers. I have already heard of farmers being offered reduced prices for beef.
“There simply isn’t enough feed in the country for our animals. Most farmers would be replenishing their fodder stocks for next winter, but there are burning through whatever they have just to keep their animals alive. With little to no grass growth, it’s unlikely that any more fodder will be stored up.
“We have one chance to prepare for next winter and spring. Minister Creed must do what is needed and what is necessary to prepare for the looming emergency. Anything else will leave farmers high and dry,” concluded Cahill.