'A lot of farmers are not signing up to buy imported fodder as they don't have the money'
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been told that many farmers are not signing up to buy imported fodder as they don't have the money to pay for it.
Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that the current fodder system had developed into an animal welfare issue as the quality of fodder being fed to animals was poor in some cases.
He called on the Minister for Agriculture to introduce a meal voucher scheme where farmers can get concentrates to feed their cattle.
Kenny said it would be 4-5 weeks before there is grass in the North West and he said farmers are inspections are an added pressure and are not appropriate and they should be put off until cattle can be out on fields.
He also said that while the agri-food industry is important and a huge contributor to the economy, but the primary producer is not making the money and is on the bottom rung of the ladder and said that the ambition of the sector needed to be looked at and the pressure it puts on farmers.
However, the Minister said there would be 'no row back' on the ambition of the sector but said there were lessons to be learnt for all stakeholders.
"Yes, we are living with the visible impact of climate change..on a daily basis we see it and we collectively will have to factor that in. But I do not believe for a minute that it is time to dismantle our ambition.
"We have the capacity to meet the targets and they are not the Department's targets, but the industry's.