‘The Minister’s treatment of farmers is farcical.’
Sligo News File
There were strong exchanges in the Dail when last weekend a South of Ireland Deputy challenged agriculture Minister Michael Creed over his handling of the fodder crisis.
TD Mattie McGrath spoke of conditions in “Tipperary, east Waterford, south Kilkenny and east Cork, as well as other parts of the country” where he said farmers were “completely burned by the drought.”
He said: “The Minister has made no real effort to address this.
“I would love to know what inducements he is giving to stakeholders to come up with the figures he has given us. The situation on the ground is very different and many farmers have huge issues with not having enough fodder and no way of getting funding. The banks effectively are not working and the money announced in last year’s budget was not drawn down, while this year’s budget was a damp squib for agriculture.
“Suckler herds are on their knees and farmers in that sector wanted €200 per cow, but the Minister gave them €40, but one must weigh calves and their mothers, meaning the farmers must spend €50 to get €40. The Minister’s treatment of farmers is farcical.”
Creed: “The Deputy should reflect seriously on the accusation he has made against Teagasc to the effect that it has manipulated figures. It conducted a national fodder survey, the veracity of which has been accepted by all stakeholders. I accept that within the national deficit of 11%; there are individual holdings where it is higher. The best outcome from the stakeholder forum was the advice from the advisory services, namely, Teagasc, private advisers or co-operatives. The Deputy should reflect on his charge that a State organisation has manipulated figures.”
McGrath: “It has questions to answer.”
Creed: “The Deputy is seeking a cheap headline. It is rather unfortunate to try to make a cheap political point on the backs of farmers, who have had an extremely difficult year.”
McGrath: “The farmers have sleepless nights. Certain others do not.”
Creed: “It is a hit-and-run effort by Deputy Mattie McGrath. He will not even stay for the rest of Question Time.”
McGrath: “The Minister does not even run or hit.”