ICSA raises fodder emergency in Leinster House

‘Our members are down to the wire on fodder.’

‘Meal vouchers for drystock farmers vital to alleviating the current hardship.’

Sligo News File.

ICSA has stepped up pressure for a “greater response” to the fodder crisis in a meeting with members of the Oireachtas in Leinster House today.

President of the ICSA Patrick Kent

Commenting following discussions with Fianna Fail agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue and FF members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture, ICSA president Patrick Kent detailed his association’s key demands as:

· The immediate rollout of meal vouchers.

· The introduction of a low interest loan scheme for small and medium sized farming enterprises for working capital.

· All outstanding farm scheme payments to be made immediately.

· Flexibility around the terms of targeted supports such as BDGP and the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including flexibility on inspections.

He said:

“ICSA has stepped up pressure for a “greater response” to the fodder crisis in a meeting with members of the Oireachtas in Leinster House today

“Our members are down to the wire now on fodder and while co-ops are bringing in what they can, their priority is with their own milk suppliers. Cattle and sheep farmers must get equal access to co-op imports of fodder.”

“The provision of low interest loans must be made a priority. We urgently need to deliver working capital to farmers who can’t access any more credit. The situation is particularly acute for cattle and sheep farmers, many of whom are experiencing difficulties with merchants, co-ops and banks. ICSA wants to see priority given for working capital of up to €10,000 for as many farmers as possible instead of funds being hoovered up by a smaller number of bigger farmers, as has happened in the past.

“ICSA is also demanding flexibility with regard to the BDGP scheme where farmers have been forced to sell stock which in turn could cause difficulties with the terms of the scheme. Sheep farmers heavily impacted by the snow will also have to be accommodated and leniency will have to be shown to those who have a shortfall in numbers.

“ICSA also raised the issue of knackery charges which are extortionate, especially for livestock between the ages of two and four.”

The ICSA delegation, which also included ICSA beef chairman Edmund Graham and ICSA suckler chairman John Halley, attended the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture hearing in the Dail later in the day.

“ICSA will also be meeting with Minister Michael Creed tomorrow, Thursday, for further briefing on the issues,” he said.

No room for Sligo’s mobile BreastCheck Unit?

Sligo to Tubbercurry to Collooney and back again to Sligo, will anyone give it a home?

Sligo News File.

Space in Sligo is aparently in short supply, so short it looks that a site cannot be found for the Mobile BreastCheck Unit.

Only a few weeks ago, Health Minister Simon Harris informed the area’s government TD Tony McLoughlin that the HSE had extended the contract for the service by a year.

Then lo and behold Sligo was told that the unit was being switched from the town to Tubbercurry. This meant patients would have to find a way of getting to the South Sligo venue.

However, there then came news of yet another change in the offing. This time Collooney was identified as the HSE preferred location. But apparently no luck there either.

Now, the unit is on the lookout for yet another ‘home’ back in Sligo again. Trouble is, dear old Sligo doesn’t seem keen to have it within the town boundaries – or so it looks.

Patients, however, are being assured that the search for a site is top of the local agenda. A local businessman is leading the charge for an accessible venue with lots of room to cater for the huge six-bay vehicle on which the service is transported.

As an incentive to have the unit operational at the very earliest, Sligo Today has said the news site “would be honoured to pay for the unit’s first week”at whatever place the unit finally comes to stay. A nice gesture.

So, is all set for an early happy ending?

Oireachtas Committee to discuss fodder crisis today

Agriculture Minister to face questioning on supports being rolled out to the farming community.

Sligo Today

Possible financial support for farmers is down for discussion when Agriculture Minister Michael Creed attends a meeting of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee today.

Pat Deering, Chair, Oireachtas Agriculture Committee

Chairman Pat Deering says the Committee want the Minister to fill them in on the situation surrounding the fodder crisis and possible financial support for the farming sector.

Credit flow is also on the cards as are issues regarding the cost of feed.

Reports of animals going hungry and farmers being unable to access enough fodder are a cause of grave concern to Committee members, said Deering. They want every farm to have access to feedstuff.

South Sligo farmer Eddie Davitt has been critical of Creed’s handling of the fodder emergency, accusing him of ‘turning a blind eye’ to the crisis.

He told Mid West Radio that the issue had been raised at two high profile meetings in Sligo at which officials of the minister’s department were present.

He had also spoken directly with the Minister when he impressed on him the need for action over what was then a looming crisis regarding fodder.

Teagasc Regional Manager, Vivian Silk said that 56 farmers in Mayo were looking for fodder while 28 had some for sale.

Vivian Silke, Teagasc Regional Manager

He feared the crisis was set to worsen because of the torrential rainfall over the weekend. Many farmers were currently “down to their last reserves.”

As of now, grass growth was slow as well as which getting fertiliser to the land would be extremely difficult if the rainfall continued.

He said Teagasc was maintaining a register at their offices in Ballina, Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport for farmers either seeking or offering fodder for sale. Farmers could also contact the Teagasc county-wide helpline, 096 80086, which was fully manned during office hours. The services of Teagasc were open to clients and non-clients alike during the emergency, he said.