“The Government must immediately tackle the fodder crisis or face extensive destocking and significant losses to Ireland’s vital agriculture sector”, MEP Marian Harkin fumed in Brussels earlier this week.
The MEP for the North/West said that failure by the Government to improve the hardship, currently being experienced by members of the farming community, would result in the “mockery of the Food Harvest 2020 targets and their role in national economic recovery”.
“The farmers’ organisations have clearly outlined that importing fodder is merely a stopgap solution, and the conditions prevailing on many farms pose an ongoing economic and animal welfare problem, which actually pales in significance to the human problems being encountered by farmers and their families,” she continued. “Farmers along the Western seaboard in particular, often need to bring fodder from Eastern or Midland counties when there is a shortage. Given that many of these areas will now be lucky to have sufficient fodder for themselves, this back-up situation will no longer prevail. Given the conditions so far, we already know there will be shortages at the end of this year or next year. Now is the time to plan for this - it will be too late otherwise.”
The local MEP went on to say that investment by government in a support programme that extended for at least 12 months, would be the most acceptable measure at the present time, and she also pointed to the “economic and social return” as a result.
“This investment could in the short term involve advance payments to farmers, guaranteed by the single farm payment where necessary, or subsidised credit provided through AIB - the bank owned by the Irish people, she added. “However, a more long-term solution will also need to be devised to assist those suffering from the ongoing fodder crisis.”
Meanwhile Irish Rural Link (IRL) called on communities to support farm families who have been affected by the fodder crisis,” Seamus Boland, IRL stated. “In the last few weeks we have become aware of the high stress levels experienced by farmers and it is important that all of the agencies dealing with farmers, including the banks and merchants are aware of farmer’s difficulties, and are prepared to take a longer term view in terms of credit limits offered as well as other loans that are due.”