State 'opening cheque book' could further fuel soaring fodder prices - Minister warns

Fianna Fail demand fund for affected farmers.

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has warned that using state funds to support farmers in difficulty due to fodder shortages could further fuel the crisis.

In a debate on the issue in the Dail yesterday, Minister Creed said he acknowledged the difficulties faced by any farmer who has been farming on heavy ground in a year in which there has been exceptionally high rainfall.

“I am not going to get into the difference of opinion about whether there is sufficient fodder in the country, but the Teagasc assessment on the pasture sward is that 2017 was, in fact, a record year for grass growth and that there is sufficient fodder in the country.

“The problem is that we have surplus in certain areas and a deficit in other areas.

Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue says the Government is walking us into another fodder crisis because it is failing to take action to respond to the issue. 

He is calling on Minister Michael Creed to establish a fund for affected farmers.

Deputy McConalogue, along with seven Fianna Fáil colleagues, tabled a special topical debate in the Dáil, to emphasise the urgency of the issue. 

However, Minister Creed stressed that it is not the case that my Department has not been proactive on this issue.

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“A number of weeks ago, long before any of the Deputies stood to raise the issue, I asked Teagasc to go out into the farmyards in the regions where they are and find out what the situation is on the ground.

“If there is to be a scheme it has to be one that is based on the evidence on the ground from the Department officials and Teagasc which is in the farmyards in the regions concerned. That process is under way. I am satisfied that there is sufficient fodder.

“There are problems at the moment about escalating prices for fodder being demanded.

“We need to be conscious of how we fuel that by the expectation that the State's chequebook may be opened in this area. We need to be conscious of how we progress this matter.

The Department is obliged to be rational about it and accumulate the evidence as best it can and then make a decision. That is under way.

“I keep an open mind on the matter, but I am conscious that our commentary is fuelling fodder prices when there is no need for that escalation in price,” he warned.

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