Joe Healy, President of the IFA, recently called on the Department of Agriculture to implement a ‘five point plan’ to help farmers affected by bad weather conditions:
- Crisis aid for tillage farmers who have suffered serious crop losses
- Fodder Scheme for farmers unable to save enough hay or silage
- Easing of qualifying criteria for Farm Assist
- Flexibility on slurry spreading
- Prompt payment under all farm schemes, with no delays and no excuses.
“The harsh reality on almost all farms this year is that the direct payment is the only net income coming into the family household from farming,” said President Healy.
IFA Grain Committee Chairman Liam Dunne was contacted by That’s Farming, and he said that crop farmers ‘have less than nothing’:
“The call from Healy is specifically focused on getting the government, and indeed the people, to concentrate on sorting out the situation. At the moment it’s difficult enough. I was down in Galway on Saturday with Joe Healy looking at farms and it’s not simple at all. This situation is not simple.”
President Healy is expecting that farm scheme payments for this year will be made, but his warning to the government regarding delays is more or less aimed at ensuring that preliminary payments in particular will be rolled out smoothly. According to Mr. Dunne, there should be no likely exceptions:
“There’s no reason there should be any delays. Even if there were a few problems with initial payment, that should be sorted relatively quickly, given that money can be paid out from what’s left over; it is a partial payment after all. There is no reason why initial payments can’t be made.”
“We [tillage farmers] have no money in our pockets. We’re hoping that the tillage issues will be brought up with the Agricultural Committee of the EU. They’re having a meeting today, and we’re hoping to see this brought up. Especially at that level, that’s where changes can really be made.”
It appears that farmers all across the EU have been having similar, albeit not identical, problems: “The IFA has also been talking to German, French and Belgian crop farmers, and they’ve also been struggling. They all had very bad weather at the start of the summer, but it cleared up a bit. They’re still looking for help though, same as us.”
“The Tillage forum will be taking place on October 6th, and we hope that will help things get sorted as well. If and when a crisis plan will be put together, we hope it will really address the issues crop farmers are facing,” explained Mr. Dunne.
According to Mr. Dunne, tillage farmers are facing a completely different problem than other farmers. “Even for things like flooding payments; cattle farmers could take their livestock away from flooded areas when there were problems, but crops were ruined. You couldn’t do anything about it.
“Dairy farmers, for example, still have their cattle, their equipment and their dairy parlours after a bad year. They face difficulties of course, but tillage farmers have lost everything. The money is already spent on these crops, and they’re gone. Farmers might have invested €3,000 or even €5,000 per acre. They have no recourse.” stated Mr. Dunne.
“It’s not fair to say they have nothing. They have less than nothing. They’re left with bills and no income.
“I’ve spoken to a farmer from Galway, and he’s in a terrible way. He said he’s afraid he might have to bring his daughter home from college. He can’t afford the cost of a child living away from home.”
Like President Healy, the Grain Committee chairman is urging people to get in contact with a Teagasc advisor. He says an independent assessment of the losses suffered by farmers is exactly what’s needed to prove how bad things are.