Fodder scheme failing to reach farmers in need – Carthy
Responding to reports that only two applications have been received by the Department of Agriculture for the Fodder Transport Scheme, Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has said that it proves that the scheme is not fit for purpose.
Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“It is now crystal clear that the fodder transport scheme is failing those struggling farmers it was supposed to support. Unfortunately this vindicates the concerns I raised before the scheme was introduced when I argued that a meal voucher scheme was a more appropriate mechanism for supporting farmers who have suffered as a result of the fodder crisis.
“We know that a substantial number of farmers are facing difficulties, and that these difficulties will intensify in light of the most recent severe weather conditions. They are in desperate need of financial assistance.
“The news that the department has only received two applications indicates that a problem lies in the eligibility criteria or application process. Minister Creed and his department have drowned the scheme in bureaucracy and unnecessary eligibility conditions.
“The 100 kilometers distance condition is a prime example of this, meaning farmers who source fodder from under 99 kilometers away are not eligible for support.
“The stated purpose of the scheme is to help farmers, but it appears that the intention of the government is to make it as limited as possible, keeping costs down.
“In order to restore some credibility on this issue Minister Creed must now move to introduce a meal voucher scheme. This is the only way we can insure that the needs of animals are met because the fodder available is of varying quality and the scheme to ensure supply is in tatters.
“The Minister waited until the 11th hour to announce the transport scheme having initially denied that there was a crisis at all. I am calling on him to take immediate action in the interest of farmers, in a way that prioritises farmer’s livelihoods and animal welfare over departmental penny pinching”.