Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Seán McNamara has called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to expedite the release of all outstanding farm scheme payments.

“At the very least, the Minister needs to ensure that any outstanding payments to farmers are expedited. Any monies owed to farmers must be paid without any more excuses,” he said.

He called on the Minister to act immediately to support farmers who are suffering enormously – both mentally and financially – due to the persistent bad weather.

Immense challenges

“Farmers across the country are facing immense challenges as a result of the severe wet weather conditions, with both their mental and financial wellbeing at stake. The Minister needs to listen to farmers and he needs to offer support now,” he said.

“For low-income beef, sheep, suckler and tillage farmers in particular, it is hard to keep everything ticking over at the best of times, but, at the moment, it is next to impossible.

“Fodder reserves are depleting at an alarming rate and the financial strain is mounting. Farmers have shown great resilience up to this point, but that resilience is waning.”

Financial support

McNamara said the situation is made even worse by the refusal of the Department of Agriculture to offer farmers financial support thus far.

“Farmers feel abandoned at the moment. The prolonged winter and financial strain have pushed many farmers to their breaking point. There are a lot of stressed farmers out there and many are feeling a sense of hopelessness.”

McNamara urged the Minister to use Tuesday’s convening of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee to address the issue of financial support for farmers.

“At the last sitting of the [committee], Department of Agriculture officials stated that there is no funding available to assist farmers. They simply cannot come with that same message tomorrow. Farmers need help and they need it now.”