Breen lauds Shannon Airport for their solidarity with Struggling Farmers and welcomes extension of imported fodder transport scheme.

May 1st, 2013 - Pat Breen

Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen has today (Wednesday) paid tribute to the Management and Staff of Shannon Airport for the solidarity which they the local farming Community and welcomed the extension of the imported transport scheme which has now been announced by the Minister for Agriculture and Food Simon Coveney T.D.

“Farmers in Clare and right across the Country are continuing to face difficulties as a result of the shortage in fodder. This crisis has arisen following on from the bad weather we had last summer and the late spring which has resulted in this year’s grass growth being four or five weeks behind schedule. Normally, stocks of fodder are held in reserve; however, this year these stocks have been exhausted given that farmers have had to house cattle for longer.

The strong solidarity which exists between our Local Communities and Shannon Airport came to the fore again last week when the Airport rallied to the aid of struggling farmers by bringing forward grass cutting on its 300 acre site. Over 1,000 bales were distributed throughout the County last weekend and this morning the Airport has come up trumps again by facilitating the cutting of a further 80 acres to help local farmers. And I would like to thank the Management and Staff at the Airport for their support and for which local farmers a very thankful.

Given the extent of the crisis, I am in daily contact with the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and I am pleased that he has taken my concerns on board and now extended the duration of the Imported Fodder Scheme for one week. The scheme will run until Friday, 10th May and the importation of Maize Silage is now eligible under the scheme. Up to 6,000 tons of maize silage is currently being sourced and this fodder is expected to arrive into the country shortly.

At this time of the year cattle are usually out in the fields eating grass and while the arrival of fodder from the UK will help to alleviate the shortage here, many farmers are continuing to struggle with cash flow problems. The Banks and various Financial Institutions must now step up to the plate and follow the lead of Shannon Airport and lend a helping hand to these farmers by making flexible arrangements in place to assist farmers during this crisis.

From working closely with farmers and the Local Farming Organisations over the past number of weeks I am very much aware of the initiatives which they are taking to aid farmers and in particular I would like to commend the IFA and Teagasc, Dairygold and the Kerry Group for their efforts.

In the longer term, given that we do not have any fodder stocks in reserve for next winter, I have been assured by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Simon Coveney that his Department are presently putting a plan of action in place to ensure that adequate fodder stocks will be in place.

And I would remind farmers who need assistance that the animal welfare assistance emergency number is 1850 21 19 90 (Lo Call) and they should make the call if they need help.

This is a time for us all to pull together and show solidarity with the farming communities to ensure that the negative impact of the short term difficulties being experienced are minimised in the interest of a strong sector which is providing an area of growth much needed in the present circumstances.