LIMITED FODDER AID SCHEME TO BE INTRODUCED – BRENDAN SMITH TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has been informed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine that his Department is engaging with stakeholders, including through the Fodder task force, with a view to providing a targeted contribution towards long-distance transport of fodder to those areas most impacted by the adverse weather. Deputy Brendan Smith had tabled further Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann to the Minister asking him to introduce a Fodder Aid Scheme in view of the serious difficulties facing many farmers in areas such as Cavan and Monaghan in which there are fodder shortages and if he would make a statement on the matter.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in his response to Deputy Brendan Smith stated –

“Weather conditions for much of last autumn and early winter were challenging for farmers, particularly in parts of the West/North West. This resulted in the earlier housing of stock and challenges for some farmers in terms of Fodder conservation. On foot of these challenges, I prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers with cash flow. The European Commission agreed to my request,  informed in part by the poor  weather conditions  of last autumn, for an advance payment of the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme and Agri-environment schemes. These payments commenced after the earliest date possible which was 15th October, and balancing payments issued in early December.

These payments together with those issued under the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, injected over €1.3 billion into the Irish rural economy by the end of last year and  are providing a very welcome boost for Irish farm families and will help to finance fodder purchase where necessary.

Last autumn as poor weather conditions continued, I then asked Teagasc to work locally in areas with fodder difficulties, supporting good budgeting for fodder supplies on farms over the winter ahead.

Furthermore, in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the issue of fodder availability in affected areas, I convened a fodder group chaired by Teagasc and comprising of all the main stakeholders including feed merchants and co-ops, banking, farm bodies etc.  The group held its first meeting in December and again on Monday 15th of this week. The group’s objective is to actively monitor the situation and to ensure co-ordinated expertise and guidance is available to affected farmers regarding their options. These may include sourcing alternative feed, reducing non-breeding stock numbers and ensuring they continue to carry out fodder budgeting.

As outlined at the weekend, my Department is engaging with stakeholders, including through Fodder task force, with a view to providing a targeted contribution towards long-distance transport of fodder to those areas most impacted by the adverse weather. As the deputy can appreciate, fodder sale and purchase is a normal and significant trade between farms on an annual basis and it is important that any prudent measure brought forward is appropriately targeted to those most impacted whilst not impacting negatively on this trade.

I would also stress that if a situation arises where the welfare of livestock is at risk, herdowners should contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare helpline or Regional Veterinary Office for support” concluded Minister Creed in his reply to Brendan Smith TD.

The Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD stressed that it is essential that an appropriate and adequate Scheme is introduced without delay to ensure that farmers in financial difficulty due to fodder shortages are given the necessary support at this time.

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For Written Answer on : 16/01/2018

Question Number(s): 1240 Question Reference(s): 1804/18

Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine

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 QUESTION

 To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a fodder aid scheme in view of the serious difficulties facing many persons in areas such as counties Cavan and Monaghan in which there are fodder shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith TD

REPLY

  Weather conditions for much of last autumn and early winter were challenging for farmers, particularly in parts of the West/North West. This resulted in the earlier housing of stock and challenges for some farmers in terms of Fodder conservation. On foot of these challenges, I prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers with cash flow. The European Commission agreed to my request,  informed in part by the poor  weather conditions  of last autumn, for an advance payment of the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme and Agri-environment schemes. These payments commenced after the earliest date possible which was 15th October, and balancing payments issued in early December.

These payments together with those issued under the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, injected over €1.3 billion into the Irish rural economy by the end of last year and  are providing a very welcome boost for Irish farm families and will help to finance fodder purchase where necessary.

Last autumn as poor weather conditions continued, I then asked Teagasc to work locally in areas with fodder difficulties, supporting good budgeting for fodder supplies on farms over the winter ahead.

Furthermore, in order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the issue of fodder availability in affected areas, I convened a fodder group chaired by Teagasc and comprising of all the main stakeholders including feed merchants and co-ops, banking, farm bodies etc.  The group held its first meeting in December and again on Monday 15th of this week. The group’s objective is to actively monitor the situation and to ensure co-ordinated expertise and guidance is available to affected farmers regarding their options. These may include sourcing alternative feed, reducing non-breeding stock numbers and ensuring they continue to carry out fodder budgeting.

As outlined at the weekend, my Department is engaging with stakeholders, including through Fodder task force, with a view to providing a targeted contribution towards long-distance transport of fodder to those areas most impacted by the adverse weather. As the deputy can appreciate, fodder sale and purchase is a normal and significant trade between farms on an annual basis and it is important that any prudent measure brought forward is appropriately targeted to those most impacted whilst not impacting negatively on this trade.

I would also stress that if a situation arises where the welfare of livestock is at risk, herdowners should contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare helpline or Regional Veterinary Office for support.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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