11 APRIL 2018
ICSA was in Leinster House today to step up pressure for a greater response to the current weather related fodder crisis. Following a meeting with Fianna Fail agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue and FF members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture, ICSA president Patrick Kent outlined the association’s key demands as:
- The immediate rollout of meal vouchers.
- The introduction of a low interest loan scheme for small and medium sized farming enterprises for working capital.
- All outstanding farm scheme payments to be made immediately.
- Flexibility around the terms of targeted supports such as BDGP and the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including flexibility on inspections.
“ICSA has spelled out in no uncertain terms that meal vouchers for drystock farmers are still vital to alleviating the current hardship. Our members are down to the wire now on fodder and while co-ops are bringing in what they can, their priority is with their own milk suppliers. Cattle and sheep farmers must get equal access to co-op imports of fodder.”
“The provision of low interest loans must be made a priority. We urgently need to deliver working capital to farmers who can’t access any more credit. The situation is particularly acute for cattle and sheep farmers, many of whom are experiencing such difficulties with merchants, co-ops and banks. ICSA wants to see priority given for working capital of up to €10,000 for as many farmers as possible instead of funds being hoovered up by a smaller number of bigger farmers, as has happened in the past.”
“ICSA is also demanding flexibility with regard to the BDGP scheme where farmers have been forced to sell stock which in turn could cause difficulties with the terms of the scheme. Sheep farmers heavily impacted by the snow will also have to be accommodated and leniency will have to be shown to those who have a shortfall in numbers,” Mr Kent said.
ICSA also raised the issue of knackery charges which are extortionate, especially for livestock between the ages of two and four.
The ICSA delegation, which also included ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham and ICSA suckler chairman John Halley, attended the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture hearing in the Dail today. ICSA will also be meeting with Minister Michael Creed tomorrow (Thurs) for further briefing on these issues.