Speaking outside of Leinster House on Wednesday morning, Fianna Fáil’s Agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue was confident that his Private Members motion will be passed in the Dáil.

The motion proposes a tillage crisis fund of €5m to assist the couple of hundred farmers along the south coastline and in western counties who suffered devastating crop losses in the 2016 harvest.

“Considering there was a €86million underspend in the Department of Agriculture’s 2016 budget, on top of the large underspend arising from Rural Development Programme (RDP) Schemes, the Minister has the money to establish a crisis fund for the hundreds of tillage farmers whose crop was badly impacted or destroyed in 2016," McConalogue said.

“Specialised compensation schemes have been set up in the past - the Aid Scheme for Potato and Vegetable Crops damaged by Frost was introduced in 2010 and sets a precedent for compensating farmers who saw their crops destroyed."

Commissioner Phil Hogan has said any such underspend would not be eligible for such a purpose.

However, even if the motion passes, McConalogue stated that he expects resistance within the Department of Agriculture. He cited the precedent of a similar fund created in 2010 to assist vegetable growers who suffered catastrophic losses during the month-long freeze that winter.

Listen to "Fianna Fáil's agricultural spokesperson Charlie McConalogue on the tillage crisis fund" on Spreaker.

The motion will be debated in the Dáil this afternoon, with an IFA led farmer protest at the gates of Leinster House adding pressure on the minority Government, who rely on the support of Fianna Fáil to govern.

The Fianna Fail motion

That Dáil Éireann notes:

  • The absolute necessity to support tillage farmers and the rural communities that rely on this sector.
  • The continual trend of low grain prices, increased input costs and poor margins over the last number of years has intensified the income crisis and financial hardship in this sector.
  • Farming organisations have estimated that tillage farmers suffered a severe income reduction of between €70m and €80m over the course of 2016, with reduced production in excess of 400,000 tonnes.
  • The average net margin on tillage farms in 2016 was minus €130 per hectare, as outlined at the recent Teagasc Outlook Conference.
  • Severe inclement weather badly damaged and destroyed tillage crops in Autumn 2016, encompassing coastal regions and other counties.
  • The refusal by the Government to provide specific ring-fenced funding to offer financial assistance to tillage farmers who have seen their land and crop destroyed by severe weather in 2016.
  • The appalling vista that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine underspent, by €86m, its 2016 expenditure budget.
  • Recognises the example of the Aid Scheme for potato and vegetable crops damaged by frost, which was introduced in 2010.
  • The Fianna Fail motion calls on the Government to: