Kenny rejects call for fodder task force
Micheál Martin says human cost to farmers over fodder crisis beginning to mount
A Kildare Farmer sets out fodder for cattle during the recent cold weather
The Taoiseach rejected a call by the Fianna Fail leader for a task force to deal with the fodder crisis facing farmers.
Enda Kenny said farmers were the most practical minded people and they knew that neighbours would share, as Dairygold had demonstrated when it brought hay from England last week.
“It is a genuine issue of concern, but I do not share the Deputy’s view of the need for a task force. All the people are in place.’’
Mr Kenny said they were headed by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who had publicly invited farmers to contact him and the department so they could get access to credit and fodder as required.
Micheál Martin said a national co-ordinating group or task force, involving all stakeholders, should be set up immediately. A fodder-aid scheme should also be established.
Mr Martin said the transport costs incurred by co-operatives helping their suppliers to source fodder had serious implications.
“Credit facilities and lines are breaking down. There is no fodder left in the country, which is very serious.’’
He said the human toll was beginning to mount. Some farmers had been hospitalised and mental health problems were growing.
Mr Kenny said he was aware that it was an issue of acute concern to farmers. The issue had arisen because of the harshness of the weather over several months, and sourcing fodder was now a key priority.
He added that a relatively small number of farmers had contacted the department despite the request to do so if they were in acute need.
“Listening to farmers I note the co-op spirit is very strong,’’ said Mr Kenny. “Farmers who still have silage left have helped others who do not.’’
He said Mr Coveney and the department had been in regular contact with the banks, the co-ops and the feed merchants urging flexibility and co-operation so farmers who needed it could have access to fodder, be it silage, meal or whatever.
Mr Kenny said the Minister would again renew his call for flexibility on the part of banks and co-ops.