Farmers call for declaration of national emergency over fodder crisis

A helpline has been set up to assist farmers affected by the crisis

Farmers call for declaration of national emergency over fodder crisis

File photo, grass cutting getting underway on the airfield at Dublin Airport, 04-04-2018. Image: RollingNews

The Irish Farmers Association is urging the Government to declare the ongoing fodder crisis a national emergency.

The association has warned that time is running out for farmers and has called on the Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to extend a scheme announced yesterday to include all co-ops, licensed merchants and livestock marts.

The organisation is also calling for on-farm inspections to be suspended.

IFA President Joe Healy says it is a very bad situation:

“The country has a whole now has run short of fodder,” he said.

“A number of coops have looked at importing it from Spain, from the UK and from France.

“In some cases that has happened and I think that other private merchants need to be able to do that as well – knowing that they will have support in transportation costs from the Government.”

He said there is “no worse sound for a farmer than to go into his yard or her yard and to hear animals bawling with the hunger and no silage around the place.”

“Farmers take that very seriously and it is a lot of pressure on farms,” he said.

He said the €1.5m the Government pledged yesterday to help meet the costs of importing animal feed does not go far enough.

Mr Healy also urged any farmer facing financial and emotional stress over the crisis to seek help.

“It is good to talk to people,” he said.”You are not on your own.”

“We have helped a lot of people; we are continuing to help a lot of people whether it is feed they want to feed their animals or to speak to the bank with them or any problems they might have.

“Don’t keep it to yourself because you are not alone. You are not the only person feeling this way.”

The state agency Teagasc, which is responsible for research, advisory and training services to the agriculture industry has launched a a national helpline to assist farmers affected by the crisis.

Over the weekend, farmers can phone or text 087 7971377 to speak to a Teagasc person for assistance.

Meanwhile Fianna Fáil has called for a new low-interest loan scheme to be made available to farmers affected by the crisis to pay for the increased costs they are facing.

The Samaritans 24 hour support phone line is also available on 1850 609090.