Problems on farms are growing by the day due to the atrocious weather conditions and they have now reached a stage that has John Comer, President of ICMSA, calling for official acknowledgement of what he has described as ‘near catastrophic’ conditions facing farmers all over the country. Mr Comer said that the time had come when the conditions warranted an acknowledgement by the Department that they would be ‘factoring-in’ the very adverse conditions farmers are experiencing in terms of compliance and inspections. Mr Comer said the scale of the problems being currently experienced and the likelihood that conditions might worsen as the summer goes on now required a proactive and constructive approach both from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and the Co-ops/processors to assist affected farmers through this latest challenge.
“ICMSA is receiving reports from members throughout the country in relation to the failure to harvest silage crops, cattle having to be housed, reduced milk production, very poor grazing conditions, damage to land at harvesting, flood damage, increased concentrate feed bills as well as the pressures arising from increased costs and the sharp reduction in milk price experienced over the last few months. Quite clearly, there are immediate and ongoing problems for farmers and the Department and Co-ops must play their role in assisting farmers”, said Mr Comer.
“In relation to the Department, they should firstly - as a matter of immediate priority - issue any outstanding payments under all schemes and the AEOS scheme is one area in which there appears to be particular issues. Secondly, the Minister’s intention to seek an advance payment of the Single Farm Payment would greatly help and this must be delivered upon. Thirdly, the Department must ensure that all payments are made on time this year and they must actively anticipate likely problems and address them before they become intractable. In that connection, the payment of the Disadvantaged Areas scheme in Mid-September and the advance SFP in mid October will be absolutely essential. Fourthly, the Department is currently inspecting farms under SFP, REPS and other schemes and it is essential that inspectors recognise the pressures on farmers and take a reasonable approach where weather-related problems such as poaching arise. All farmers seek to meet the Department regulations but the current weather conditions make it very difficult - most specifically for farmers with heavy land”, he continued.
“In relation to the means by which our Co-ops can show support, milk price is obviously a key issue and when setting milk price Co-ops must have regard to the pressures on their suppliers – who are actually their strongest asset We would note that feed sales are substantially up this year with an increased throughput for Co-op mills. The Co-ops must provide quality feed at the lowest possible cost to farmers and they must also endeavour to provide reasonably priced substitutes for fodder where farmers find themselves short in the coming winter. Finally, the Co-ops with seasonality schemes must review these schemes and farmers should not be penalised under these schemes due to issues arising from the current weather conditions. There is no room for complacency on these issues and ICMSA is calling on Minister Coveney, his officials and our Co-ops to demonstrate real commitment and support to farmers as our problems begin to multiply and peak production months come under real threat”, concluded the ICMSA President.