Written Answers. - Fodder Relief Scheme.

Michael Ring

Question:

355 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason stock farmers were excluded from the fodder losses compensation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1508/99]

Enda Kenny

Question:

424 Mr. E. Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason no fodder aid scheme was introduced for dry stock farmers whose need has become acute in the past number of weeks; the plans, if any, there are to introduce this scheme; the counties and townlands for which this scheme is to be approved; the level of fodder aid to be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1836/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 and 424 together.

Financial assistance under the 1998 fodder scheme was made available to all sheep farmers with mountain grazings, suckler cow producers and small dairy farmers, with milk quotas of less than 35,000 gallons, in the worst affected areas. These areas are quite extensive and were identified as the worst affected in a Teagasc survey completed in September. The aim of the scheme was to give immediate help to farmers who were badly affected by the fodder crisis. The approach adopted was to give priority to the breeding herds having regard to the level of funding available for the scheme. However, arising from discussions at the Government meeting earlier this week, my Department and the Department of Finance have already entered into discussions to devise a suitable targeted scheme to assist farmers who are experiencing severe difficulty due to scarcity of fodder. The matter is being pursued with urgency.