There is no worse sound for a farmer than to go into the yard and hear their animals roaring with hunger, IFA President Joe Healy said this week as the country’s fodder crisis continued.
The Athenry farming leader demanded action from Government, including the establishment of a dedicated budget for farmers in urgent need of help to see them through the fodder shortage.
Mr Healy said the crisis should be treated as a national emergency, as he conceded farmers were in a bad state. “They’re under pressure physically, financially, and mentally,” he said.
Meanwhile, Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív accused the Agriculture Minister of allowing the fodder crisis to develop into an emergency.
He said Minister Michael Creed ignored the situation for months, putting unnecessary pressure on farmers.
“This crisis was predicted as far back as last September, and despite warning after warning from ourselves and various farming organisations, the Minister chose to ignore the seriousness of the situation and failed to take any concrete measures to tackle it. Now we have reached almost emergency levels with only a few weeks fodder left in the country,” he said.
Minister Creed was “out of touch”, and allowed the crisis to spiral out of control, he said. “Farmers are rightfully angry and frustrated. He needs to act now to bring some certainty to farmers,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.
Fianna Fáil has called for Minister Creed to begin a co-ordination exercise to import and transport fodder, ensuring that those who need it most are prioritised.
“A feed voucher scheme must also be introduced so that farmers can receive financial help to afford to buy the feed they need – either concentrates or fodder – to get through the next few weeks. Many simply don’t have the finances after an exceptionally long winter to meet the cost of buying in additional feed,” he said.
Galway East Fine Gael TD, Minister of State, Ciaran Cannon welcomed the allocation of €1.5 million towards the introduction of a Fodder Import Support measure for farmers here in Galway and across the country.
The scheme, introduced by Minister Creed and operating through Co-ops, contributes to the cost of importing feed.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.