Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 27 June 2017

IFA demand rescue deal for western cereal farmers

Emergency aid and fodder scheme top five-point plan for the Minister

IFA President Joe Healy Picture: Frank McGrath
IFA President Joe Healy Picture: Frank McGrath
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Pressures are mounting on the Government to help embattled cereal growers west of the Shannon. With the weather showing no sign of letting up, farmers in the western half of the country are facing the loss of tens of thousands of acres of cereals.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has already penned in a crisis meeting for key stakeholders for next week, but attentions are now turning to what emergency aid can be directed at those most affected.

Among the initiatives mooted this week is a five-point plan from the IFA ahead of the Budget in two weeks. It includes:

• Crisis aid for tillage farmers who have suffered serious crop losses

• Fodder Scheme for farmers unable to save enough hay or silage

• Easing of qualifying criteria for Farm Assist

• Flexibility on slurry spreading

• Prompt payment under all farm schemes, with no delays and no excuses.

A spokesman for the IFA stressed that the latter two points would not cost the Government anything to implement, while the easing of Farm Assist qualifying criteria and the provision of transport funds for fodder would have a minimal cost.

Teagasc are currently carrying out an assessment of those with significant fodder deficits and tillage growers with substantial weather-related crop losses.

Having visited farms in the West and North West affected by poor ground conditions, IFA president Joe Healy said urgent action by the Government was needed, particularly for tillage farmers in parts of the country with crop losses and others in areas who have been unable to conserve sufficient fodder for the winter.

Most recent Teagasc figures show that there are 5,000 specialist tillage farmers nationally, with 63pc deemed viable in 2015.The average farm assist payment that year was €9,000.

"The harsh reality on almost all farms this year is that the direct payment is the only net income coming into the family household from farming," he said.

A 70pc advance on the €1.2bn direct payment is due to be issued in three weeks on Monday, October 17. The IFA is also looking for a relaxation of regulations on slurry spreading to allow farmers the maximum flexibility to get work done when ground conditions allow.

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