Smith expresses disappointment at sub-standard fodder support scheme

– Minister refuses to roll out essential meal voucher scheme –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Agriculture Minister to establish a meal voucher scheme to farmers affected by the ongoing fodder crisis.  Farmers in the North West have been hardest hit by the fodder shortage, and are having to transport feed from other parts of the country.

Deputy Smith explained, “The fodder support scheme announced by Minister Michael Creed last week simply doesn’t go far enough.  Although it may provide some small relief in helping to cover transport costs, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

“My party has been calling for a meal voucher scheme for farmers for some time, and the Minister’s decision not to include one in this latest announcement is further evidence of just how out of touch he really is.  This fodder crisis did not just happen overnight – Fianna Fáil has been warning of the impact of the situation on the ground for months, but the Minister refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.

“Some farmers across Cavan and Monaghan do not have enough feed to get them through the winter months and are now solely reliant on buying fodder in other parts of the country and transporting it in.  This is an expense that many of them can ill afford.  This is why a voucher scheme is so important.

“The Department of Agriculture ran up an underspend of almost €80m last year – surely some of this could be used to finance a meal voucher scheme for affected farmers?  The scheme announced last week could lead to more demand for already diminished fodder supplies, further driving up prices and increased pressure on already financially hard-pressed farmers”.