Farmers in crisis need more 'top down' help
AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney's €1 million in relief funding for farmers has failed to make any great impression on the ICMSA whose Kerry chairman, Noel Murphy, said this week that the minister needs to come forward with more practical help to provide some level of relief.
Mr Murphy, who farms near Milltown, said farmers have now endured nearly a year of absolutely atrocious weather and "unprecedented anxiety is now rampant throughout the countryside".
"The last month has really hit farmers hard and must be seen as 'the straw that broke the camel's back'," he said, adding that while farmers and neighbours are helping each other, the pressures continue to grow and farmers are becomingly increasingly frustrated at the lack of action coming from Minister Coveney.
"Farm families are doing all they can to help each other out, literally, at grassroots level. But we need more 'top down' support to compliment that 'bottom-up' effort as well. The situation all over the country is dire and having met with many dairy co-ops in recent weeks, we see the same story everywhere with debt levels and feed usage at record levels and debts being incurred that simply cannot be paid off this year," he said.
Mr Murphy also said the ICMSA believes that banks are not living up to their statements about assisting farmers. "The reality is very different and farmers are being refused credit. The point is that even if the weather improves soon – and please God it will - farmers will be dealing with the consequences of this weather for many years to come", said Mr Murphy.
Setting out a number of key issues that need to be tackled to alleviate the pressure on farmers, the ICMSA called on Minister Coveney to make an application to the EU Solidarity Fund to provide financial aid to farmers to get them out of the current disaster.
They also want a clear statement from Minister Coveney that any reasonable issues arising from the fodder crisis should not result in a penalty in 2013. They specifically point out that, as farmers have had to farm in dire conditions over the last 12 months,the inspection regime must recognise this and take account of weather related issues, for example, the use of additional concentrates should not result in a penalty under the Nitrate regulations.
The ICMSA also wants to see Farm Assist cuts that were introduced from April 1 suspended.