The impact of the ongoing drought on farmers was the focus of a meeting, which took place this week between Minister for Agriculture Food & Marine, Michael Creed and EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan.
This meeting followed on from Minister Creed’s request recently for the Commission to monitor the exceptional drought situation in Ireland and other Member States closely, and keep an open mind on measures that might be required to mitigate its impact on farmers. Minister Creed secured agreement from the Commissioner to pay higher advance payments in the autumn. As a result, advances for pillar I and pillar 2 payments will be increased to 70 per cent and 85 per cent, respectively, resulting in €260m in additional cashflow for Irish farmers at a time of the year when the needs are most acute.
Minister Creed also used the occasion to ask the Commissioner to expedite consideration of his request for certain flexibilities on the GLAS scheme, which can assist in replenishing fodder stocks in advance of the winter period.
“I know that he has a very good understanding of the situation, and he advised me that a number of other Member States are experiencing similar difficulty," said Minister Creed.
"Against this background, I want to thank him for agreeing to my request to increase the rate for scheme payments in the autumn. This is critically important, and will significantly improve on-farm cash-flow at a time of the year when it is most needed. I have also asked him to expedite consideration of my request for flexibilities in a number of other areas, intended to bring more agricultural land into production for fodder and help replenish depleted stock. The Commissioner has agreed to consider this request speedily and he and I undertook to remain in close contact on the matter as this situation progresses.” The Minister also met with representatives of Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank this week.
“This was a useful opportunity to impress upon the banks the real concern among farmers at present, arising from a difficult winter and an unprecedented spell of dry weather. The banks are engaged fully with the Fodder Coordination Group, and I am assured that they are putting supports in place and are committed to the long-term financial sustainability of the sector. I have called upon them to continue to engage closely with clients and provide any support needed at this difficult time. I am also aware that many farmers will be relying heavily on merchant credit to navigate through the current situation. Therefore, I welcome recent initiatives both by Glanbia and Dairygold in relation to credit facilities for their suppliers and urge others to consider similar measures.”
“There is no doubt that the current weather events are exceptional and are causing real difficulty for farmers. Navigating the period ahead will require real solidarity from state agencies, banks, the farming community, feed merchants, co-ops and processors. I would call upon all stakeholders to recognise the exceptional circumstances obtaining at present and I would like to assure farmers that I will remain engaged with all stakeholders to help address the issues over the coming period.”