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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Gardaí on the scene as angry farmers occupy Department of Agriculture

Grain farmers are facing into a fourth year of potential losses
Grain farmers are facing into a fourth year of potential losses
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Angry tillage farmers are occupying the the Department of Agriculture in Kildare St this evening over details of a Tillage Crisis fund which they say is not acceptable.

The farmers are members of the IFA Grain Committee and are seeking the full details of the tillage scheme and an urgent meeting with Minister Michael Creed. Gardai are present at the protest.

IFA has been lobbying for a support package for tillage farmers who lost crops in the 2016 harvest due to dire weather conditions.

The farmers concerned are primarily farmers along the west coast from Donegal to Kerry and in some inland counties who, because of the weather conditions during the harvest season last year, were affected by wet days that ran on in a manner that meant that they could not get into their fields and that their soil was very soft.

This meant that they could not harvest their crops.

IFA wants to discuss elements of the scheme, which have been reported in the media, and which would not be acceptable to the IFA.

An emergency fund worth an estimated €1.5m is set to open for tillage farmers in the west hit by poor weather during last year’s harvest.

The ‘Crop Loss Compensation’ scheme, expected to be launched in the coming weeks, will make a maximum of €5,000 available to up to 300 private tillage farmers.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture confirmed the new scheme but said it will only support private tillage farmers whose damaged crops had no commercial value and where upwards of 30pc “verified crop loss” volume occurred.

“This was a challenging scheme to put tougher in terms of quantifying and verifying dreadful losses to farmers”

 “It will be a maximum payment of €5,000 per applicant with a ceiling of €200 per hectare. It will be limited to a max area of 25 hectares per applicant,” said the spokesperson.

IFA President Joe Healy his organisation has held a number of meetings with the Department about the details of the scheme, and the Department had committed to a further meeting once the draft scheme had been prepared.

This has not happened. “We need to sit down with the Minister and sort this out before the scheme is published,” Joe Healy said. 

At a meeting of the IFA Grain Committee today, Chairman Liam Dunne said members were very concerned about the selective information that appeared in the media. The report quoted a Department spokesman as saying that the scheme would go ahead and gave some limited details about the scheme.

He said, “The details are totally unacceptable to the Grain Committee, as the scheme appears to be too narrow and restrictive. The reported budget may not be sufficient to cover the full extent of the losses incurred by farmers. Those farmers who are most affected must receive the most from the scheme”.

“Given the financial pressure farmers have been under for almost a year as a result of lost crops, it is crucial that payments are made to farmers as soon as possible. It must be user friendly and ensure that sufficient aid gets to those who deserve it.” 


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