CORK South West TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, (pictured) has said the Agriculture Minister’s hands-off approach to farmers affected by the tillage crisis is simply not acceptable.
Fianna Fáil brought forward a motion on Wednesday night (18th) during Private Members’ Business calling on the Minister to establish a crisis support fund to provide direct payments to farmers who were impacted by severe crop loss last year.
Ms Murphy O’Mahony said she had been shocked by the Minister’s complete failure to engage with this issue, when there are thousands of tillage farmers across the country whose livelihoods depend on the land: ‘Last summer saw one of the worst harvests in recent memory, with heavy rain leaving land along the western and southern seaboards waterlogged, causing the crop to fail.
‘Hundreds of farmers, all across South and West Cork, saw large parts of their crop wiped out last autumn and are now experiencing serious financial hardship. In addition, crop prices have plummeted over the last week, leaving farmers struggling to keep afloat,’ she added.
‘Despite calls for a compensation fund to assist these farmers, the Government has stood back and refused to move on the issue. Minister Creed and his Cabinet colleagues do not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation.’
Total losses from the failed harvest estimated at over €4.5m and she added that pointing tillage farmers towards the new low cost agri-fund loan scheme is not a policy solution.
Specialised compensation schemes have been set up in the past – the Aid Scheme for Potato and Vegetable Crops damaged by Frost was introduced in 2010 and sets a precedent for compensating farmers who saw their crops destroyed.
‘Minister Creed cannot continue to sit on his hands while Cork farmers face the threat of losing their livelihoods,’ concluded Ms Murphy O’Mahony.