CORK South West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that the fantastic work ethic of farmers and their families has been put on display this week as they care for their animals, and has urged them to stay safe and to take all the necessary precautions when they are carrying out their essential work.
‘Farmers and their families have been working night and day to care for their animals, and have been active and willing participants in supporting vulnerable people in their communities,’ said the Fianna Fáil TD.
But, Deputy Murphy O’Mahony added: ‘This recent weather crisis should force Minister Creed’s hand to rethink his approach to the Fodder Crisis Fund. It urgently needs to be amended and Fianna Fáil is calling for a meeting to be convened next week between the Minister, his Departmental officials and representatives of the farming organisations to discuss the best way to support farmers in the aftermath of the extreme weather conditions which have swept over the country in the past few days.’
The Bandon-based deputy said that practically every farmer in the country has been affected by the severe weather that has hit Ireland over the past few days. ‘We are in the middle of lambing and calving season, and animals which would normally be out in the fields are remained indoors – this is creating a difficultly for farmers who may be running low on feed,’ she added.
‘This requires an urgent response from the Government, and not the normal hands off approach to crises in agriculture that we have seen over the past five years from Fine Gael. Minister Creed was forced to establish a fodder fund for farmers affected by adverse weather last year.
However, the fund he announced was extremely limited. The scheme needs to be expanded to include meal vouchers and other payments, given the difficulty that farmers are now in as a result of the current exceptional conditions. Many farmers were already struggling to cope in the face of high fodder prices.’
She continued: ‘After all their hard work and effort over the past few days, and no doubt the effort they will have to put in to clean up their farms in the days and weeks ahead, the least the Government can do is make the Fodder Scheme more suitable to their needs and fast.’