Independent Tipperrary TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed to clarify how the estimated national level of fodder deficits are being calculated.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after he challenged the Minister on the matter this Thursday during Dáil Priority Questions.
“The Minister is being, at best, very disingenuous with respect to the continuing crisis in the levels of fodder supply," said Deputy McGrath.
He said Minister Creed had highlighted to him this Thursday how Teagasc now estimates the deficit to be down to 11 per cent nationally, from a previous figure of 20 per cent.
"Yet not two days ago, on Teagasc’s own website it acknowledged that the most recent survey of winter feed supplies on beef and dairy farms identified typical shortages of around 20-24 per cent in south/eastern counties and 10-15 per cent in north/western areas," he said.
Individual cases had also reported greater deficits exceeding 40 per cent.
Deputy McGrath said that this raised serious questions about the kind of information that Minister Creed was receiving, especially since this information was essentially dictating his response.
"I have said it previously and it must be said again: the Minister is not only absolutely removed from the true scale of this ongoing crisis but he also seems totally unwilling to accept factual feedback from farmers who are still struggling," he said.
"We know how this government has a particular fondness for spin and how it manipulates statistics to mask its own inaction. I want the Minister to fully accept that the fodder crisis is far from over and to listen and act on the reality of what is occurring rather than how he imagines it is going,” said Deputy McGrath.