Fodder crisis highlighted by Connaughton


East Galway T.D. Paul Connaughton has highlighted the fodder crisis facing many farmers in East Galway and called on the Department of Agriculture to ensure that farmers waiting on payments are paid as quickly as possible.


The issue was raised by Deputy Connaughton during a Topical Issues debate in the Dáil on Thursday afternoon. He highlighted the difficulties many farmers are experiencing in relation to the Beef Technology Scheme and also the fact that many farmers in AEOS are still waiting on 2012 payments.


‘All of this is against the backdrop of a fodder crisis in the sector where farmers literally cannot afford to feed their cattle. The Minister cannot be blamed for the weather but he must understand where we are. I now hear talk of the Government encouraging the banks, the credit unions and co-operatives to be more lenient with farmers, but does it not understand that these are the ones with whom the farmers have the issue? The farmer needs the money to pay back the co-operative and the bank. Why would they be any easier in lending to these farmers in a situation where they are the ones to whom the farmers are supposed to be giving the money?


‘What I really want to get across to the Minister today is that there are issues with this scheme that are not being resolved. Farmers have still not been paid on their AEOS payments. It is impossible to get information out of Johnstown Castle as to why there is a problem on a farmer’s application. If there is an issue, let us fix it. Allow the farmer the chance to fix that problem. These farmers need help and they are not getting it. We need to get it to them as soon as possible.


‘These farmers are on their knees at the moment. They cannot go to the banks or to the co-operatives. Instead of forcing them to these places, they should be given the money they deserve and for which they signed up. It needs to be expedited in any way possible. The resources need to be allocated to help these people out. That help must come over the next two to three weeks. There is no point in it coming in the next couple of months – we need delivery on this now. These farmers are in a very tough situation with massive debts. Let us get them the money they deserve so that they are not forced to go to the banks. They should be given an opportunity to do what they do well. Only then can the sector drive on from there.’