Ploughing 2018: Fine Gael accused of bungling over delay in low-cost loans
Fine Gael has been accused of ignoring farmers facing the challenges of Brexit as their wait for low-cost loans drags on.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has admitted that the loans scheme - allocated funding of €25m in last year's Budget - won't be ready until early 2019.
There has also been criticism that the loans - when they are finally available next year - will be for long-term investment on farms rather than day-to-day spending that could ease the fodder crisis.
Charlie McConalogue, the Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman, claimed that Fine Gael is "ignoring the farming community when it comes to meeting Brexit challenges".
He also argued that the Government has shown the same attitude on the fodder crisis.
Mr McConalogue said: "It's a scandal given that we are only six months away from a potentially hard Brexit and at this stage the minister has not delivered on a Budget commitment from last year."
Meanwhile, the IFA president Joe Healy has warned that farmers are facing a winter of discontent due to fodder shortages after the summer drought.
He urged the minister to allow the use of the new loan scheme for working capital so that farmers can "clear their feed, fertiliser and contractor bills".