Minister asks Brussels to allow relaxing of rules to make more land available for fodder

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has formally written to the European Commission seeking support for the relaxing of a number of conditions, which could potentially make a significant amount of land available for the conservation of fodder. 

It comes after the Minister outlined the problems currently being faced by Irish farmers owing to the prolonged winter of and the continuing summer drought conditions at last weeks European Council of Ministers meeting.

The Minister has previously requested that the Commission ensure the earliest approval of advance direct support payments this autumn in order to support farmers cope with this prolonged challenging period. 

Minister Creed is also scheduled to meet with the Pillar Banks this week to discuss the difficult situation.

Farm organisations have over recent weeks called for a series of actions from the Minister.

ICMSA President, Pat McCormack said the closing date for fertiliser spreading on 15 September should be extended and the decision should be taken now so that farmers can make fertiliser decisions based on the knowledge that the closing date has been extended.

He also said that the GLAS rules need to be amended particularly in relation to species-rich grassland and traditional hay meadows to allow farmers spread additional fertiliser to grow grass.

"Depending on weather conditions between now and the end of the year, farmers could be facing an unprecedented fodder crisis in winter 2018/19 and Department scheme must not hinder farmers from growing additional fodder at this time in the interest of farmer and animal welfare."

IFA President Joe Healy said it is a complete farce that the agri-loan scheme announced in last October’s Budget would not be available to farmers until the end of this year.

“Farmers were already frustrated that the Minister had indicated that it would be the second half of 2018 when money would be available to farmers. Now it looks like it will be a race against time to have the money available at any stage in 2018. It is a complete farce,” he said.

IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady earlier criticised the refusal by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to allow farmers who have the traditional hay meadow measure in GLAS to cut their meadows now rather than have to wait until July 1st.

The IFA Rural Development Chairman said the inaction by the Minister mirrors the stance he adopted during the fodder crisis last winter and has left farmers very frustrated that he does not understand the practicalities of farming.

He said the Minister must allow as much flexibility in GLAS as possible so that farmers are in a strong position with fodder for next winter.

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