Thursday, 12 May 2022
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Security: Statements
Charlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Very little of merit or substance comes from Deputy McGrath.
The fodder scheme was raised, which is very important. The key message for all of us, which I will give again today, is that it is important that people do the best they can this year to grow grass, fodder, silage and tillage. That has been happening but over the course of this year we need to make a big effort to prepare for next winter and spring to make sure we are fodder secure. It is about doing that planning.
Deputy Michael Collins stated that I had been silent for the past few months. I am not sure where he gets that from. The Government has been closely assessing and monitoring the situation and responding, whether to the real challenges facing the pig sector or the horticulture sector. I have been working with the Minister of State, Senator Hackett, on horticulture, and with the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, on the pig sector. We have also responded by supporting the fodder and tillage sectors. The Government recognises that it cannot do everything but we have been very much listening to and working with all sectors to try to support them.
I thank Deputy O'Connor for his comments and his advocacy on behalf of Ballycotton pier. He has been able to deliver €1.5 million for his local community on that. I take on board his points about work permits.
I thank Deputy Cahill for his contribution, which focused on the significant cost inputs in the sector. We will take that on board. The Deputy made a very important point about the supply of beef next winter. It is for this reason we have introduced a fodder support scheme to try to ensure there is good fodder supply. There will be an important relationship there between processors and farmers in preparing for next winter and making sure farmers are well supported to produce beef next winter.
I do not have time to respond to many of the other comments. Overall , this has been a very useful and worthwhile debate. The vast majority of Deputies approached it from a constructive point of view. I thank the Oireachtas and the Business Committee for scheduling this debate and the Ceann Comhairle for facilitating it. We will continue as a team to be available, working with everyone in the Oireachtas to support our farming community, a great sector which it is an honour to represent.