The “horrendous” number of livestock fatalities on farms this year due to the weather related problems requires an exceptional response from government and the services that deal with the farming sector.
That’s according to Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who made the appeal on behalf of hard-pressed farms who, she said, are currently “caught in a desperate squeeze between a lack of fodder for livestock and the continuing lack of credit facilities”.
Ms Harkin said the publication of income statistics by Teagasc this week indicates that a great number of farms have encountered the worst experience of their lives.
“Farmers all over Ireland have suffered an average 15 per cent drop in incomes with the West particularly hard-hit. This income drop in the West has coincided with unprecedented adverse weather conditions leading to shortage of the cheaper grass feed and the requirement to purchase expensive concentrates.
“This situation has been compounded by the reduction in payments under the Farm Assist Scheme and the general lack of credit available from the banks. In response to a question I submitted in early February, Minister Coveney obviously thought that measures such as permission to spread fertiliser earlier than allowed by regulation cold stimulate early grass growth, but this of course did not prove to be a solution to the fodder problem.”
She said that the crisis has remained and will not be resolved without exceptional measures. “The Government has a duty to act from both a humanitarian point of view and because of the economic loss which results from livestock deaths, which are at an unprecedented level.
“This crisis is also set to drag on as some farmers will not get a first cut of silage this year, thereby extending the current fodder crisis into the autumn. In fact, it could be this time next year before the situation is fully under control.”
She added that the financial institutions which are now owned by the people of Ireland – including farmers – must be required by government to provide credit for the purchase of fodder and develop repayment schedules which have regard to the current weather-related problems and the income cycle of farming.