Hard lessons from the fodder crisis must be learned- Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
Speaking ahead of the Seanad debate this evening on the fodder crisis, Sinn Féin Seanad Agriculture Spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said:
“The hard lessons from this fodder crisis must be learned by the Government.
"The drive towards huge expansion in agriculture outlined in Foodwise 2025, the ten year plan for the agri-food sector may look good on paper, but we have to ask with Brexit and climate change if this is feasible or indeed desirable.
"Avoiding another fodder crisis needs discussion and proposals from the farm organisations and Teagasc with the Department, and may involve a reduction in stocking levels.
"The family farm is an integral part of rural Ireland and Irish society. Making it sustainable is a key aim for the future of our country. We cannot allow circumstances to arise where only the big, industrialised farmer can survive and the small family farm goes to the wall for lack of foresight and planning to avoid crises.
"Sinn Féin calls on the Government to properly compensate and support our farming community for their losses during this crisis
“Sinn Féin have been calling for action on this issue for years. Since last September, we warned the Minister of the number of farmers in the North West who had being unable to get second cuts of silage and had to house cattle early due to severe rain in August and September.
"Last October we warned of a looming crisis but our concerns were dismissed by Minister Creed who continued to claim that there was no crisis and that there was lots of fodder in the country.
"In December, farmers, including some from my own area of Donegal, contacted Teagasc in relation to the fodder shortages, with the majority of them having a 50% shortfall in fodder. We warned that the Fodder Action Group that was proposed was kicking the can down the road; but our warning fell on deaf ears.
"In January of this year we called again on the Minister to provide meal vouchers to help subsidise the cost of meal which is a feed that farmers can be assured of the quality of what they are getting.
"Sinn Féin have been consistent in raising this issue with the Minister, and he has routinely ignored our calls."