Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Questions (393)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

393. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider introducing a voucher-based meal subsidy as a part of a future fodder support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40861/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A survey of Fodder supplies in September indicated that the potential national fodder deficit has reduced from 18% this summer to 11%,with further reductions anticipated since this survey was conducted, as farmers continue to harvest fodder.

My priority is to support the conservation of as much fodder for the coming winter as possible from our own resources, and to supplement this with necessary imports as required. To achieve this I introduced a number of targeted measures:

I introduced a €2.75 million Fodder Production Incentive for Tillage Farmers to encourage tillage growers to actively engage in the fodder market and there has been positive engagement with this measure.

I announced a €4.25 million Fodder Import Support Measure for autumn 2018. The measure seeks to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage. While the measure will operate through the Co-operatives/registered importers, the actual beneficiaries will be farmers who need supplies of fodder.

Additionally, I also secured agreement from Commissioner Hogan to pay higher advance Pillar 1 and 2 payments which will be increased to 70% and 85% respectively, resulting in €260 million in additional cash flow for farmers at a vital time of the year.

Furthermore, following consultation with the EU Commission, my Department made some temporary adjustments to the GLAS scheme for this year and in consultation with my ministerial colleague Mr. Eoghan Murphy T.D., a two week extension of the closed period for the spreading of chemical and organic fertilisers was announced and has allowed farmers capitalise on autumn grass growth for fodder production.

I am confident that the range of measures introduced by me to date, taken together and targeted at producing as much fodder as possible from our own land, is the most effective response to ensuring adequate supplies ahead of the coming winter and I have no plans to introduce a meal voucher subsidy. However I can assure you that I will continue to closely monitor and engage on this significant challenge during the coming period.