President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack prepares for his meeting with Minister Creed on the current fodder crisis and attendant issues. (Picture: John McGarry)

Speaking after last Thursday’s meeting with Minister Creed and other stakeholders on the question of the current fodder crisis and attendant issues, the President of ICMSA has said that while progress seemed to be being made at the level of actual availability of fodder, disappointment would focus particularly on the decision not to retrospectively include farmers who had sourced fodder between the 50km and 100km limits recently amended by the Minister and also the decision not to suspend inspections while the crisis was ongoing and in the wake of the recent extreme weather events.

Pat McCormack said that ICMSA had stressed those two areas which, he noted, were completely within the Minister’s powers to address, but had also raise several attendant issues which were related to and compounded by the current situation and which also required the Minister’s attention as a matter of priority.

“We focused initially on the need for the Minister to retrospectively amend the fodder scheme to make it more inclusive, there’s the question of securing the necessary shipping space for the fodder lorries as well as the obvious need for inspections to be suspended till some degree of farm normality is restored. But there are related issues that we also think require some attention because they’re really part of a ‘wall of problems’ that is demoralising farmers right across the country and turning what is already a challenging period into a really difficult trial. We asked that the low interest loans be rolled-out as quickly as possible, and we also asked that the banks and other credit institutions be instructed to treat farmer customers with the same degree of patience and flexibility that the banks themselves had been extended when they were in such profound difficulties a decade ago.

“There is as well the question of the obviously unattainable June 15 slurry spreading deadline for derogation farms and the absolute need for a coordinated plan that combines dairy with the beef and tillage sectors to try and guarantee fodder crops for winter 2018/19. There are several issues that we think the Minister could – and should – take immediate action on. But the reality is that Irish farming is facing an unprecedented number of problems right now and is going to have to be nursed through what is going to be a very difficult period just up ahead”, said Mr McCormack.