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Gardaí attend scene as tillage farmers occupy Department of Agriculture building

The occupying farmers were seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Michael Creed.

grain protest4 Gardaí arrive at the scene of the protest. Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

A GROUP OF grain farmers are occupying the Department of Agriculture building on Kildare Street in Dublin this evening.

Gardaí were called to the scene, and talked to the farmers at the sit-in.

Farmers urgently want to meet Minister Michael Creed to gain details on a controversial tillage scheme.

grain protest1 Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says certain elements of the scheme reported on by the media would “not be acceptable” to its members.

The tillage scheme is aimed at supporting farmers who lost crops during the 2016 harvest due to what the IFA called “dire weather conditions”.

The poor weather affected farmers primarily on western coastal counties and meant that farmers were unable to harvest their crops.

grain protest3 Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

The Department of Agriculture has yet to publish full details on the scheme, and IFA President Joe Healy expressed worries that the scheme would be “too narrow and restrictive”.

The IFA believes that the funding for the project – believed to be in excess of €1 million – will be insufficient to cover what farmers lost.

Speaking today, chairman of the IFA grain commitee, chairman Liam Dunne, said: “Given the financial pressure farmers have been under for almost a year as a result of lost crops, it is crucial that payments are made to farmers as soon as possible.

It must be user-friendly and ensure that sufficient aid gets to those who deserve it.

grain protest2 Farmers inside the building Source: Finbarr O'Rourke

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the department said: “The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine today received a request from the IFA for a meeting to discuss a proposed crop compensation fund for tillage farmers affected by the severe weather events of September 2016.

The Department are happy to facilitate this meeting as soon as possible.  Notwithstanding approval by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the outline of a crop loss compensation scheme, the final terms and conditions and application process for such a scheme are yet to be finalised and published by the Department of Agriculture Food & Marine.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice welcomed the news of the scheme last week, but expressed reservations about the reported maximum payout on the scheme.

He said: “It has taken a long time for this scheme to become a reality and the reported payout of a maximum of €15,000 per farmer will not compensate some farmers who were very badly hit.”

Read: National Party co-founder loses bid for injunction against farmers association

Read: Irish farmers warned about Bluetongue virus after outbreaks in France

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Sean Murray

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