The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association is holding a national rally to highlight the need for action on the fodder crisis and address how additional funding for the ANC Scheme will be directed. The rally is scheduled for Friday night 1st December starting at 8pm and will be held in the Sligo Southern Hotel.
National President Colm O’Donnell outlined the need to have a fodder aid package in place before Christmas stating “how many farmers will be facing into 2018 with most or all of their fodder supplies used up as a result of the early feeding of livestock and their inability to harvest a second cut due to excessive rainfall.” Currently he continued “many farmers are facing into their fourth month of feeding with another five still to come and what they need to see is recognition from Minister Creed that there is a crisis and a plan in the form of a fodder scheme to help them.”
As it stands added Mr O’Donnell “a considerable amount of time has been lost denying the need for a fodder aid scheme while farmers struggled both physically and mentally as they attempt to provide enough feed for their livestock.” In the INHFA’s pre-budget submission the association sought an aid package to include a meal voucher scheme, a transport haulage subsidy and a monitoring role for Teagasc. This he continued “can provide the basis for a fodder aid scheme but immediate action is required in order to advert animal welfare issues in early 2018.”
The National Rally will also address how best to direct the additional €25m funding for the ANC Scheme. This extra funding announced by the Minister in the budget estimates for 2018 should stated Mr O’Donnell “be targeted to the farmers whose lands have the highest level of Natural Constraints.” In doing this he outlined how the increased funding can start to address the current imbalance in the methodology used in calculating the level of payments for each land type. He then added “how this should also acknowledge the extra costs incurred and income forgone for these farmers as a direct result of the level of handicap experienced in their farming systems.”
While some farming organisations have been calling for the reversal of the 2008 cuts which saw 35,000 farmers reduced from 45 eligible hectares to 34 with an average cut of €710. This policy the INHFA believe is flawed as it will not benefit small holders, which is why we are recommending a front-loaded model on the first 20ha, targeted at the lands with the highest level of constraint.
Mr O’Donnell concluded by encouraging all farmers to attend stating how their attendance will send a strong message to the Minister, Government and all the public representatives who have been invited to attend.