IFA president Joe Healy
Agricultural Minister Michael Creed needs to deliver real measures to help farmers on ground who are suffering due to the drought, according to IFA president Joe Healy.
The announcement last week by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to allow a 70 per cent advance payments under the Basic Payment Scheme, while welcome, its benefits will not be seen until October 16, he said.
“While the derogation for the production of animal feed on fallow land is also welcome, important flexibilities are required under the GLAS scheme which would be of much greater assistance. IFA estimated that up to 100,000 ha of additional land could be brought into fodder production by granting flexibilities for catch crops, fallow land and low input grassland," said Mr Healy.
“The Government must also explore the additional flexibility under State rules to support farmers at this extremely difficult time” he said.
“As a matter of urgency, Minister Creed must now clarify what exact measures he has sought and is seeking from Brussels. It is reported that no formal request has been submitted by the Minister for a number of derogations that are needed under the GLAS scheme to help farmers to save more fodder before the winter” he said.
“Farmers also need more flexibility on fertiliser application rules to allow them to maximise grass growth in the next few months” he said.
The drought is still affecting many parts of the country, with minimal grass growth and significant impacts on spring cereals and vegetables. There are now huge feed bills on many farms.
If the rain continues to fall farmers may have a narrow window to maximise grass growth and save as much fodder as possible. EU restrictions which limit this must be lifted.
“What we asking for is that farmers are allowed to help themselves. We have a chronic fodder shortage and if we don’t act now it will too late” he said.
Minister Creed must also introduce the low cost loans promised as far back October during last year’s Budget speech and this must be available for working capital, said the IFA president.
“Many farmers have now run up huge debts with their co-ops and merchants purchasing additional feed. Opening up the low costs loans could few over €150m in liquidity for farmers which would help to pay feed bills.” he said.