Contractors can no longer act as 'unpaid bankers' for farming
The fodder crisis has shown the extent of over dependence of farmers on contractor credit, it has been claimed.
A contractor lobby group has called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to create a properly functioning farming banking structure that provides expanding commercial farmers with the necessary working capital requirements.
The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors (FCI) said there is a stranglehold on funding to meet realistic working capital requirements on modern Irish farms.
"We know that farmers are struggling to meet daily cash flow needs and this has been made acutely obvious with the recent fodder crisis," said FCI national chairman Richard White. "FCI members have been anticipating this fodder crisis as our members have seen first-hand evidence of the shortages of fodder, as we contractors are the ones who harvest the silage crops.
"Working across thousands of Irish farms, our members have seen dairy cow and cattle numbers rise, while silage pit sizes remain static, in an unrealistic attempt to emulate New Zealand systems that have been developed for a milder climate and different soil types.
"We know that farmers cannot expect to meet the targets of increased animal numbers, without adequate silage crops, and all this demands proper working capital funding on farms."
It comes as Mr Creed came under pressure to provide a low-interest loan scheme for farmers. IFA president Joe Healy said it was now also a "financial crisis".
ICSA president Patrick Kent said small and medium-sized farming enterprises have an immediate need for working capital.