IFA Animal Health Chairman John Waters has called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to extend the Hardship Grant scheme for TB restricted holdings in light of the continued and unprecedented feed shortage being experienced on farms.
He said farmers with TB restricted holdings have been particularly hard hit as a result of being unable to sell surplus cattle to reduce the feed burden on farms.
Those that were eligible received a hardship grant to purchase some extra fodder. However, the period of the hardship grant has now expired and these farmers still find themselves in the position of having to maintain the higher numbers of animals on hand. There are also a number of farmers who have either received the maximum payment or who did not qualify up to the end of April.
In this regard, and in order to alleviate the particular acute difficulties on these farms, IFA is calling for an extension to the hardship grant period of eligibility to the end of May and an extension to the maximum period of payment. This would benefit some of the hardest hit farmers by providing extra payments and would also qualify those who did not meet the criteria prior to the original deadline.
The cost of this measure in the overall context of the cost of the TB eradication scheme would be minimal but of enormous benefit to the farmers who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in this particularly acute and difficult situation currently with no option but to continue trying to source extra feed.
The IFA Chairman called on the Minister to make an early and favourable decision on this issue in order to alleviate some of the costs and difficulties this particular group of farmers are experiencing.