The rising costs of farming, a potential fodder shortage later this year, and fears over food security were among the topics up for discussion at a public meeting held by the IFA at Roscommon Mart on Tuesday evening.
Addressing those in attendance, Roscommon IFA Chairman Pat Leonard said the aim of the meeting was to highlight the difficulties faced by the agricultural sector to local public representatives.
Farm Business Chair Rosemary McDonagh called on the Department of Agriculture to provide new funding and highlighted ongoing confusion and delays around the sileage growing scheme and EU funding.
“We need new money and funds into the pockets of farmers to alleviate the fuel, fertiliser and feed costs”.
Cashflow issues exacerbated by farmers being required to pay up front for fertiliser and also the exit of Ulster Bank from the Irish market were also raised.
Teagasc Dry Stock advisor James Kelly said rising costs are having an impact across the board with some suckler farmers faced with cost increases of up to €200 per head. He said Teagasc has advised farmers to cut sileage early as quality may prove critical towards the end of the year.
Connacht IFA Chair Pat Murphy highlighted the association’s six-point plan which called for a reduction in VAT charged by contractors, an increase in ANC payments, lower interest loans, a review of the fertiliser industry, a freeing up of GLAS restrictions, and incentivisation of cash crops.
A number of local public representatives also addressed the meeting with many admitting they were in no doubt as to the seriousness of the situation facing farmers.
Deputy Denis Naughten said EU spending on defence now dwarfed its funding for food security in light of the Ukrainian conflict.
“We are heading for a serious situation not just here in Ireland but right across Europe,” he said.
“New money is needed…EU funds need to be trebled with match funding from Government. The other thing we need to do is grow fodder right now but funding in the short term needs to be the immediate step”.
Deputy Naughten also called for Carbon Tax to be removed from fuel prices.
Senator Eugene Murphy said details of the fodder scheme would be released in coming days and applicants would receive payment by year end.
Senator Aisling Dolan said farmers faced “massive challenges” and that while this was very much a global crisis concerns raised at the meeting would be brought back to Government.
Cllr. Laurence Fallon told the meeting that “it was up to Government to use fire brigade action to keep agriculture afloat”.
“It will be with great regret that we will see thousands and thousands fewer farmers in the years to come”.
Cllr. Emer Kelly said farming had been constantly targeted and that the Government was often “two steps behind” the rest of the world when it came to taking action.
“Young people want to engage in farming but the rising costs are discouraging this. It’s time to get fairer prices just like the rest of the EU,” she said.
Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice warned that “we can’t afford to lose our farmers” but that “predatory selling” by big retailers was taking its toll. He also called for a relaxation of solar panel restrictions on farm buildings.
Cllr. John Naughten said the current situation was an “unprecedented crisis” and that unless swift action is taken a significant part of the rural economy would be wiped out.
Cllr. Kathleen Shanagher also expressed her support for farmers gathered at the mart on Tuesday.