TD Michael Collins calls on minister to implement decision to aid struggling tillage farmers

Deputy Michael Collins calls on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to implement the decision taken in Dáil Eireann to provide aid to struggling tillage farmers whose crop was badly affected by the weather conditions along the south and west coast.

Due to adverse weather conditions during the harvest of 2016 particularly along the coastal areas many grain farmers suffered catastrophic losses to their cereal crops. Many of these farmers had already re-planted their winter grain crops due to salt damage. This resulted in huge financial losses to tillage farmers.

Deputy Collins visited a number of farms in the Bandon, Kilbrittain, Ballinaspittle and Kinsale areas in September and he saw first-hand what the weather had done to these grain crops. Noting the severity of this pending crises he immediately raised this issue in the Dáil under Leaders Questions in September, and asked the Minister to put increased supports in place and to make compensation available to farmers who had suffered huge losses. In November he once again called on the Minister to make compensation available. He contacted the MEPs from Cork South West and asked them to represent the tillage farmers in Europe and to raise the issue of compensation with the EU and the Minister for Agriculture. He wrote to the Minister for Agriculture and requested a meeting with him, to which he would bring a delegation of affected farmers. Deputy Collins also addresses the Oireachtas committee for Agriculture on this issue.

However, the government appeared unwilling to respond to the strong case being made by the opposition politicians and by the farming organisations. This resulted in a motion being put forward by the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Agriculture and supported by the other opposition TD’s directing the Minister to provide an aid package for affected farmers. This motion was opposed by the government but it was carried through on a vote of 49 to 79 in the Dáil.

Deputy Collins acknowledges the hard work and effort put in by the farmers and farming organisations in highlighting this issue. Over eighty West Cork farmers together with farmers from around the country attended a protest outside Dáil Eireann and the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday January 18th and they filled the public gallery during the Dáil debate.

Deputy Collins is requesting the Minister to immediately convene the tillage forum in order that a system can be put in place to compensate these farmers as directed by the Dáil.