In an extraordinary intervention in the Dail yesterday, Eamon Scanlon TD for Sligo-Leitrim revealed details of a farmer at his wit's end due to the lack of fodder to feed his stock.
The TD's intervention came in a debate on the issue in the Dail, yesterday where he desperately called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to take action to alleviate an ongoing fodder shortage in parts of the country.
“A constituent of mine rang the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine yesterday.
“He was put through to a very nice girl who tried to console him.
“This man is at his wit's end.
“He is not alone but his is the most serious case about which I have heard. He is in such a state. He has no money left.
“He is on farm assist. He has no credit anywhere.
“He has cattle and he told the girl yesterday that he was thinking about shooting his cows and shooting himself.
“The official was very good and kind to this man and told him that she will help him as soon as she can. That is a fact.
“There are not many people in that state but they are not far off it,” the Fianna Fail TD said.
The TD stressed that he is not crying "wolf". He said there is a serious problem in the north west at the moment that people's health is being affected by what is happening.
“Farmers are heading into eight months of feeding stock in houses and there is no prospect that these cattle will be able to get out in the very near future.
He also said a subsidised transport scheme introduced by the Government has not worked.
“The price of hay has increased to €40 a bale, that of wheaten straw has gone up to €65 a bale and silage costs €40 a bale,” he said.
‘I cannot predict the weather’
Responding to the comments Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed assured TDs in a debate on the issue that his department’s officials are actively monitoring this issue on a daily basis.
“I am reassured by the willingness of those businesses to partner with the agricultural community at this difficult time and to assist with fodder provision and credit lines. That is a strength and hallmark of the co-operative movement.
“The message should go out from here that it is alright for farmers to put their hands up now and say they are having specific individual difficulty.
“From the engagement I have had, particularly with the co-operative movement, I am quite satisfied that there will be a meaningful response from the co-ops to help them.
“In the context of the specific case mentioned by Deputy Scanlon, and for anybody else in a similar situation, the Department has the capacity to respond to individual cases on welfare grounds to help farmers who are looking at the back of a silage pit wall, who have no other options and who have cattle bellowing in their sheds. That is a very traumatic and challenging situation.
“The Department can and will respond, as it has done in the past, in respect of those who find themselves in such circumstances.
“I cannot predict the weather. We are tracking daily grass growth on PastureBase. It is significantly below- by a factor of over two - the level that obtained at this time last year.
Minister Creed said Soil temperatures are also below where they need to be but are beginning to recover.
However, he said he is satisfied that there is still a mismatch between where it is located and where it is needed, but substantially adequate quantities of fodder are available.
“That is why I say to individual farmers to approach co-ops and agribusinesses where they will find a willing ear. The Department is tracking this daily. I am constantly engaging with the officials on the matter,” he said.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article you can contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123