The severity of the crisis facing individual grain farmers requires an immediate response, MEP Mairead McGuinness has said following a series of meetings with farmers in Newtowncunningham and elsewhere at the weekend.
The Vice-President of the European Parliament, Ms McGuinness, met among others the FBD Young Tillage Farmer of the Year, Stephen Robb, to see at first hand the current difficulties in the tillage sector which are particularly acute following recent bad weather.
“The problems on the ground are very serious - hundred of acres remain unharvested and straw is lying on the ground rotting, while grain and oil seed is sprouting,” she said.
Ms McGuinness said that in September there were 28 days of rainfall in Donegal and of the last 114 days 93 were wet.
She said Teagasc is conducting a nationwide survey to assess the situation which will provide a clearer picture nationwide of the problems.
The MEP also took the opportunity to talk to dry stock farmers with cattle indoors and land severely poached in some areas with knock-on effects for fodder supplies into the winter and next year.
Ms McGuinness who last week raised the issue in the agricultural committee of the European Parliament also met with Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan on the issue in Strasbourg today (Monday) to impress upon him the seriousness of the situation.
“Apart from this short-term crisis there is an issue about the future of grain production in Ireland and it needs to be addressed at EU level,” she said.
The MEP, a lead member of the Agriculture Committee, raised concerns about the tillage sector with the Commission as far back as July, arguing that support was needed for the sector similar to what the dairy sector was granted.
She also raised the situation with Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed.