Speaking following a meeting with An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny today, Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA said that the time had come for the Government to take direct action to support farmers for what has now become a major national crisis. Farmers from all areas of the country at this stage have been contacting ICMSA expressing huge concern on the impact of the weather and while acknowledging the work done by Co-ops, it is quite clear that a government financial support package is required to help farmers through their current difficulties. The Government have been playing up the role of agriculture for many years and how important it is to the economy. Lets be very clear, Mr. Comer said, agriculture is in serious trouble at present and if the Government wants it to continue to play its role in economic recovery, it will simply have to support it now through direct support for those farmers most in need. ICMSA has proposed since August 2012 that the Government should access the EU Solidarity Fund for this purpose and we again proposed this today to the Taoiseach.
Farmers, Mr. Comer said, have endured over twelve months of absolutely atrocious weather that has led to massive feed bills on farms, fodder totally used up and a weather forecast at this stage not showing any sign of settling down. The pressures on farmers, both mentally and financially are absolutely huge and there needs to be an immediate recognition of this from the Government. The weather crisis has been ongoing for a year and has now reached crisis point at farm level. Farmers who are in difficulty should make contact with their local DVO and seek assistance immediately, said Mr. Comer.
At the meeting, Mr. Comer said, that ICMSA requested that the Government immediately introduce a financial aid package for farmers which are required and it is simply not good enough to tell farmers to go to their banks. Credit at this stage on many farms is stretched to its absolute limit, they cannot take on any more and the Government needs to step in and help those most in need.
The Taoiseach, Mr. Comer concluded, undertook to speak directly to the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine today on the growing crisis and to examine options for direct support to farmers.
Ends 22 April 2013
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal McCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office