Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called on the Minister for Agriculture to take immediate action in a number of areas to address farmers in difficulty.
Commenting on the Grain Crisis Michael Fitzmaurice said that there has been a “deafening silence” since Government representatives met industry stakeholders last month. He has urged Minister Creed to apply to the EU and establish a fund for farmers affected by the crisis.
Deputy Fitzmaurice continued “”We also need Teagasc to ensure that they have accurate figures on this crisis and that they compile the necessary information properly which will take a lot of work on the ground. This is work that should have been done before now and I am requesting Teagasc to carry out this work immediately. Whether this funding comes out of the national purse or from Europe these farmers must be supported”
On the subject of ‘The Forgotten Farmer‘ Michael Fitzmaurice said that “The Government needs to address the issue in a meaningful way”.
“In the Programme for Government, which I helped to negotiate, it is clearly stated that the issue of ‘The Forgotten Farmer’ would be addressed and now is the time to do that before the new year and new payment system begins. I have been to Europe with the Forgotten Farmers group and there is absolutely no objection in Europe to these farmers being included in the CAP system. This week I will be writing to the Minister for Agriculture and to the agriculture spokespersons in all the political parties to seek support to move this forward as quickly as possible”
“I am also calling on all the farming organisations to come out openly and back the Forgotten Farmer situation. There are figures being bandied about at the moment on this issue which are inaccurate. The number of farmers affected in this situation is far lower than what the Department is saying. This issue needs to be addressed immediately and in place in time for the start of 2017 and the Minister needs to work on this urgently. I will be keeping the public updated on the progress of this situation”
Deputy Fitzmaurice believes that a reduction in the maximum single farm payment from €150,000 to €100,000 would free up funds for ‘The Forgotten Farmer and other areas. “Under the Programme for Government it is stated that under the review of the CAP that Ireland will seek to bring the single farm payment from a maximum of €150,000 to €100,000 Euro. When I spoke to officials in Europe about this they have no problems with this happening at all and it would free up funds for issues like The Forgotten Farmer and for farmers who have small single farm payments.
Michael Fitzmaurice concluded by calling on Minister Creed to extend the low interest loan scheme announced in the Budget from 6 to 10 years. “I would have much preferred if this was a 10 year period as it would give farmers more scope at 2.9%. The Minister stated in the Dail that he hoped that the successful applicants for the scheme could be ready to go by the middle of January and that the main Banks and Credit Unions would be able to participate in this scheme,This is money that is badly needed in the farming community and we need to ensure that it is delivered promptly and I would urge the Minister to think again and to extent the loan facility term to 10 years” he concluded.