Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has accused Minister Michael Creed of failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation facing farmers in the West and North West who have been affected by the fodder crisis.
Despite repeated calls for a fodder support scheme, the Minister has only indicated his intention to help pay for the transportation of fodder. The promised scheme will be established in the coming days.
Deputy McConalogue however, says that a meal voucher scheme is also needed.
Deputy McConalogue said: “Farmers in many areas across the West and North West are experiencing severe fodder shortages – in short they do not have enough feed to cover their needs this winter and are having to buy fodder in other areas of the country.
“This is putting a massive financial strain on already hard-pressed farmers and the Minister’s announcement today will do very little to help these farm families.
“The Minister appears to be completely unaware of the plight of farmers who are struggling to cope with the impact of the fodder crisis.
“While the fodder transport scheme may give some limited relief, it will not address the problem if introduced as a stand-alone support.
“In fact it could simply exacerbate already high fodder prices.
“I have been calling for a meal voucher scheme to be rolled out as a matter of urgency, and given the huge Departmental underspend last year (€78m), I see no reason why some of this money could not be directed to assist affected farmers.
“A meal voucher scheme would help fund the increased use of cereal based concentrate feeds on farms in affected areas and would allow farmers to significantly reduce their requirement to feed grass based fodder, which is in short supply.
“The Ministers proposed approach if adopted without an accompanying meal voucher scheme would simply lead to more demand for already scarce fodder supplies.
“I will be continuing to work with farmers on the ground and farming organisations to push for a voucher scheme to be introduced as a matter of urgency”.