In artic conditions on a bitterly cold February monday morning,the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association(INHFA) were forced onto the streets to highlight the impracticable fodder aid package announced by the Minister for Agriculture Mr Creed and to also call on him to issue overdue Glas payments to cash strapped farmers.
The protest was held outside DAFM offices Drumshambo, Co.Leitrim where INHFA members vented their anger at what can only be described as a pure shambles according to association President,Colm O Donnell.The farm leader read out a letter which called on the Minister to reconvene the fodder action group to address the many inconsistencies and problems with the package designed by his Department and the co operatives.”This package was not what was proposed by the stakeholders action group and to give credibility and confidence back to the forum set up by Minister Creed he must now call those stakeholders back to adjust elements of the package to make it workable for affected farmers.We have outlined in the letter the following steps that must be taken,”
• A meal voucher scheme to be included which was the unanimous recommendation by the stakeholders action group.
• Licenced hauliers who traditionally source quality fodder to be involved in the transport subsidy scheme.
• The 100km zone to source fodder to be changed.
• Local Agri stores to be added to the scheme where there Is no co op in the area, e.g. nearest co op to Connemara is over 50 miles.
• Square bales of hay and straw to be included in the scheme because farmers with environmental restrictions on their farms they can only feed square bales to out-wintered livestock.
• The DAFM must cover the cost of fodder assessment by approved advisors.
Speaking on the non payment of Glas to thousands of farmers O’Donnell stated that “its totally unacceptable that farmers are now almost three months waiting for their money since the Minister announced the issuing of Glas payments which is a breach of the farmers charter of rights.”
Concluding the INHFA President said “farmers have enough problems of their own trying to run a business without a proper Rural Broadband service and called on the Minister to get on top of his brief,fix the I.T problems once and for all and pay farmers on time.”