PMB Fodder Crisis

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

 

Dáil Éireann 7/5/13

 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this motion.

 

Firstly, I would like to commend Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney on the action taken to date in terms of the fodder crisis, especially given the hugely restrictive nature of the Agriculture budget and the strain that all Government departments are currently under.

 

It was a logical step to intervene given the severity of the current situation and meet the transport costs for the importation of fodder.  Care had to be taken that the Government was not taking over the role of the feed importers or unfairly affecting the market.  What the Minister did was a logical step, which reduced the eventual cost of the fodder to farmers and ensured that a hugely increased volume of fodder was made available at what was a crucial juncture in this crisis.

 

Many farmers have never experienced the likes of this current impasse, which saw a very wet summer followed by a cold and long winter, where soil temperatures really didn’t rise until the first week in May.  The wet weather of last summer meant that farmers could not harvest silage or hay at the volumes required and the quality of what was harvested was poor in many cases.  Thus, early growth was crucial for farmers, but as the months of March and April went by, there was no let up and no growth.

 

Even on our own farm at home, we are looking for fodder from every available source, until such time as the necessary growth levels are achieved.

 

Of course, this very late spring will have a knock on affect for farmers across all sectors.  The growing period has started six weeks late and this will have ramifications next October and November, whatever the weather of this summer.

 

Given the reduced growth season and the severity of the long winter, many farmers are already in huge debt and under massive financial pressure.  With this in mind, it is imperative that payments are made on time, or before time, especially in cases such as the Single Farm Payment and the Disadvantaged Area Payment.

 

I have already highlighted the issue of delayed AEOS payments and the stress that this is placing farmers under, especially with the uncertainty as to when payments will eventually issue.  I believe that every resource possible should be made available in coming days to try and ensure that as many AEOS payments as possible issue as soon as possible.

 

I know that the Minister is taking every available measure and has reiterated the availability of assistance to farmers unable to feed their livestock through the animal welfare helpline.  While the volume of calls to the helpline has fallen in recent days, it is important to note that it is still operational.