As wet weather conditions continue to have an adverse impact on regular farming activities, ICSA committee chairs have united in calling for a hardship fund to be established for drystock farmers.
Suckler chair John Halley, beef chair Edmund Graham, sheep chair John Brooks and rural development chair Seamus Sherlock have all described the current plight of drystock farmers as untenable.
Suckler committee chair John Halley said: “Drystock farmers have been completely ignored during this fodder crisis. The extent of their struggles at this time has been side lined while the focus has been on dairy farmers. It is a cause for real concern that the pleas of drystock farmers are not being listened to and their concerns addressed. It must be remembered that there is no monthly cheque dropping through the letterbox for drystock farmers, so a dedicated hardship fund is vital at this stage.”
Beef chair Edmund Graham said: “Meat processors have failed to offer any assistance whatsoever. While the co-ops have done what they can, we remain at the mercy of factories that will use any opportunity to hammer us on price. We are at our wits end trying to cope with this crisis on our own and are at the back of the queue when it comes to access to imported fodder.”
Sheep chair John Brooks added, “Very capable drystock farmers are fed up of being given advice on top of advice when what they need is real support. Grass growth is barely a third of what would be expected and the funds are just not there to keep buying in feed.”
Rural development chair Seamus Sherlock said “The strain of this crisis is having a huge impact on the mental health of our farmers. We are not miracle workers and we cannot feed our cattle on thin air. Fields are saturated and getting stock out continues to be out of the question for many. Trying to manage and cope from day to day is all consuming.”
In addition to calling for a hardship fund for drystock farmers, the four committee chairs reiterated ICSA president Patrick Kent’s call for the immediate roll out 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, and flexibility around the terms of targeted supports such as BDGP and the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including flexibility on inspections.