The Independent Offaly-North Tipperary TD Carol Nolan has today backed calls from the farming community for a range of interventions to alleviate the fodder shortage crisis. In particular Deputy Nolan is supporting the ICMSA call for a transport subsidy to re-distribute excess fodder from the North West to other areas of the country.
Speaking today on the bonus day of the Ploughing Championships, Deputy Nolan stated that: “Whilst the Government subsidy of €4.2m for imported fodder was a welcome intervention, it does not support the distribution of fodder supplies from areas of the country where farmers have surplus, to other locations with a deficit."
"There are farmers in the North West of the country who have excess supplies on account of not being as severely blighted by losses earlier in the year. The cost barrier is the distribution of these supplies to farmers in the as the South and East of the country. The Minister must introduce a Transport Subsidy to defray these costs as it is essential that a surplus in one region is re-distributed to areas of shortage in favour of displacement with imports.”
A recent survey undertaken by Teagasc indicates that the fodder deficit may be as little as 10% in the Norther part of the country and as much as 30% in the South. The unexpected inclement weather this week, with more expected next week, presents the possibility of a further winter fodder crisis later in the year.
Deputy Nolan stated that “the financial pressures on the farming sector this year are having a profound impact on the economic sustainability of many farms and a detrimental psychological health on many farmers and their families. Reduced incomes; cash-flow difficulties; debt; and forced land sales by Vulture Funds are devastating the community and a source from the Samaritans recently indicated that calls from distressed farmers have increased this past year."
"It is incumbent on all of us to rally support for the farming sector upon which we all rely for our very survival. I am calling on Minister Creed to urgently mobilise transport subsidies for fodder, and to roll-out the low-interest Loan Fund immediately. A Fine Gael senator recently went on record and admitted that the party “could have been quicker off the mark” in responding to the crisis, so he must increase his pace and take longer strides to make up lost ground.”
As the organisers of the Ploughing Championship rallied in Screggan for the last day of the event and take stock of their losses, Deputy Nolan concluded by commending them for their resilience in the face of this week’s disaster. “The organisers have been exemplary in their handling of the event. They made a difficult and correct call to cancel the event on Wednesday and did a fantastic job of getting the show back on the road."
"It brings into sharp focus the conditions which farmers face across the seasons when working at the mercy of the elements. They now need the supports to keep their farms afloat.”