MacSharry calls for sacking of Agriculture Minister over government’s ‘total ineptitude’ in handling of fodder crisis

Government’s failure ‘demands new Minister and immediate relief.’

‘Minister Creed’s ambivalence and ineptitude since the Autumn has made crisis worse.’

Sligo News File.

Fianna Fail TD Marc Mac Sharry has called for the sacking of Minister Michael Creed over what he says has been the Governments “total ineptitude” in handling the handling of the fodder crisis.”

Marc MacSharry TD

He said, “On October 11th I first identified and raised the inevitability of a fodder crisis and the need for planning and preparation for the crisis we now find ourselves in.

“True to form the Government ignored my calls.

“Since August 2017 the signs were clear with much of the herd being forced indoors much earlier than usual due to the inclement weather. The situation worsened considerably through the winter with Storm Emma, Snow and near continuous rainfall in many areas. Still most of the herd remains indoors by necessity.”

Branding the response of the Minister and the Government to the situation as “an abject failure,” MacSharry said he and his
colleagues in Fine Gael and the Independents “have displayed an extraordinary level of inepititude to deal with the crisis or even understand the difficult realities faced by farming families nationwide. As (party) colleagues have said, ‘farmers are in some instances starving themselves to feed livestock.’

“Creed’s government initiatives so far have included the introduction of a totally unworkable fodder transport scheme and an even less workable fodder provision scheme which was so bad that in the worst crisis in history less than a dozen applied. Today he finally acknowledged the difficulties and has said his officials will ‘Develop a new scheme.’ What does this mean? And when?”

Describing the announced move as “Too little too late,” he said, “Minister Creed’s ambivalence and ineptitude since the Autumn has made this crisis worse.” The appointment of a new Minister is urgently required to, he said, implement:

a) Front Loading of All Farm Payments

b) Government Sponsored Fodder Transport

c) Emergency Fodder Provision Nationally To All affected At Cost

d) Multi Annual Planning for Periodic Fodder Shortages

e) Compensation Payments To Worst Affected

“Fodder supplies in Ireland are all but gone. Farming families require appropriate leadership and look to Government for assistance and guidance in times of crisis. In this regard the Minister’s performance has been a disgrace and requires his urgent replacement by the Taoiseach and the immediate implementation of tangible measures as those outlined.”

Emergency plans for importation of fodder weeks after Minister reportedly saying he didn’t believe there was a national fodder crisis

Shipments of thousands of tonnes of feed from abroad expected to commence from tomorrow.

ICSA meanwhile voices alarm over reports ‘co-ops and merchants tightening up on credit’ when many farmers vulnerable over feed shortage.

Sligo News File.

Weeks after he reportedly rejected claims farmers were facing a national fodder crisis, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is now rushing through plans for the importation of thousands of tonnes of animal feed from abroad.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture

Creed is said to have dismissed warnings of a growing fodder crisis as late as February.

He was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe there is a national fodder crisis. I believe there are pockets where there are issues, and we said we’d provide a transport subsidy and people have to be approved as having a need.”

Now, following a meeting with farming interests panic has apparently set in with Creed sanctioning the importation of thousands of tonnes of fodder from available sources in other countries. Shipments are expected to start arriving in the country from as early as tomorrow.

One co-op has announced that they will be offering the imported feed at cost.

Meanwhile, ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has voiced alarm over reports of “co-ops and merchants tightening up on credit at a time when many farmers are in a vulnerable position with fodder shortages.

Seamus Sherlock, Chairman ICSA Rural Development Committee

“The shortage of money is becoming just as big a problem as the shortage of fodder,” he said.

“Even where farmers are able to source fodder, being able to afford it is another matter.”

He said, “Farmers are now battling this winter seven months, and the stress and strain associated with this never-ending bad weather has taken its toll on man & beast. Most drystock farmers are at their wits end trying to hang on for better weather which would facilitate grass growth which in turn would allow stock back out onto grass. In the meantime, we need to see a bit of leeway so farmers can get out of this fodder crisis in one piece.

“Financial pressures can very easily manifest into mental health issues, and no one wants to see struggling farmers driven into impossible situations.”

Calling on Creed to speed up the balance of payments owed to farmers from the various schemes, he said, “At the very least farmers need to have what they are owed as a matter of urgency.

“Constant delays in payments only add to the frustration and make any sort of planning very difficult.”