Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Deputy Claire Kerrane has called on the Government to outline a response to worsening ground conditions facing farmers.

Farmers have been experiencing difficult ground conditions and heavy rainfall, which has caused many delays in turning out livestock and planting in recent weeks.

Met Éireann has forecast more heavy rainfall this week, which will likely worsen soil conditions in fields and cause farmers further delays to their usual springtime operations.

Department response

Deputy Kerrane called on Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue last week to outline his response to the fodder shortage and prolonged weather conditions family farmers have been facing.

“Continued heavy rainfall is putting serious pressure on farmers across virtually all sectors, with delays to the turning out of livestock and planting being reported,” she said.

“The Minister has no control over the weather, but he does have control over the response that is put in place to respond to such challenging conditions.

“For example, his Department ruled out a fodder support scheme during a meeting with the National Fodder and Food Security Committee last week,” she said.

“Calls for a delay to ground inspections were seemingly also met with a lukewarm response from Department officials.”

Serious pressure

“Yet, it is unclear what, if any, measures the Minister is considering to provide some relief to farmers. Many are under serious pressure, which is set to continue given the anticipated soil conditions over the coming week and possibly weeks."

She said: "Farmers need assistance, and they need it now."

“I am calling on the Minister and his Government to immediately outline what concrete measures will be put in place to support farmers with navigating through this difficult time.”