Minister criticised for 'hands-off approach'
As the fodder crisis continues across County Wicklow, local TD Pat Casey says that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed continue with a 'hands-off approach'.
The Fianna Fáil TD urged Minister Creed to take serious action to tackle the crisis and says that his failure to address the situation has had a direct impact on the severe conditions affecting farms.
Deputy Casey said as Wicklow is not a strong dairy farming county, local farmers will struggle to avail of the Fodder Import Subsidy Scheme as it is confined to the Dairy Co-Op network, which is not strong in parts of the county.
'In particular, the Minister's decision to confine the subsidy to Dairy Co-Ops would disadvantage those in the suckler and sheep farming sectors that are also under massive pressure to source scarce fodder to manage livestock through the next few weeks. In spring 2013, all Co-Ops were eligible to avail of the subsidy scheme introduced to import fodder and it makes no sense that Minister Creed would now exclude Mart Co-Ops and private feed merchants that are well placed to serve the needs of their local farming community,' said Deputy Casey.
He outlined that now the crisis is at 'emergency levels', the Minister cannot continue this 'hands-off approach' and called on the Department to introduce a voucher scheme without delay.
'Minister Creed needs to get on top of the situation and ensure that his Department begins co-ordinating the transport and importation of fodder so that it gets to those who need it promptly. A fodder voucher scheme must also be introduced so that farmers can receive financial help to afford to buy the fodder they need to get through the next few weeks. Many simply don't have the finances after an exceptionally long winter to meet the cost of buying in additional fodder,' he added.