Government failure to tackle farm input costs could lead to food shortage – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that government is failing to address rising costs as workers, families, businesses and farmers struggle to get by. The impact, he said, on farm families has been immense but he accused the Minister for Agriculture of ignoring the warnings.
Deputy Carthy’s remarks came during a Dáil debate in which Sinn Féin sought to secure further moves by government to lower excise on motor fuel and home heating oil. Even prior to the government measures it was clear that the minimal changed would be offset by further increases at the pumps.
The Cavan Monaghan TD criticised the Minister for Agriculture for inviting farm organisations to a meeting without any proposals in place following a weekend of ‘kite-flying’, and continued to invite the Minister for Climate, Eamon Ryan TD, ‘to inform farmers of what speed precisely they should drive their tractors in order to reduce their fuel costs.’ This followed a much criticised statement by Minister Ryan when he suggested that struggling motorists should slow down in order to save on fuel costs.
Deputy Carthy told the Dáil:
“Families, workers, farmers and small businesses have all been struggling with the cost of living for months, or years even.
“They have struggled with rents, childcare, insurance and mortgage interest, which Irish workers have paid among the highest costs and rates in Europe for some time now.
“Added to this, electricity, heating and fuel costs have steadily risen over the past year, leading to a cost-of-living crisis becoming evident by the beginning of this year.
“That crisis has now become a cost-of-living emergency.
“Those workers, families, farmers and businesses are now facing challenges beyond anything they have ever experienced.
“Since last September I have raised concerns about input costs for farmers with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, and his Government. Since January, the Minister has been responding to my appeals for action on farm costs with promises of appropriate solutions, but they have yet to materialise.
“Just two weeks ago, the Government rejected Sinn Féin’s motion to scrap the carbon tax increase that is due in May. Rather than taking action on farm input costs and addressing the new supply crisis resulting from the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine, our agriculture Minister was out flying kites about all farmers growing grain, a very ill-thought out solution.
“He finally pulled together farm organisations on Tuesday and we were all eager to hear his proposals – he did not have any.
“Instead, all the Government is offering to family farmers is a 2 cent per litre cut on agricultural diesel, which is insulting.
“What is required now is leadership from the Government and real supports to allow farmers help us meet an emerging international food shortage, which will lead to a substantial increases in grocery bills.
“What we need are real supports to help our families and workers get through the cost-of-living crisis.
“Instead, what did we get from the biggest cheerleader of increased costs on Irish families?
“Minister Eamon Ryan suggested that people should drive more slowly.
“I hope time will be made available to allow Minister Ryan come before the House to inform farmers of what speed precisely they should drive their tractors in order to reduce their fuel costs.
“Tonight, ultimately, the Government Deputies will have yet another opportunity to finally be on the side of workers, families, businesses and farmers. Otherwise, they can again prove that this Government is out of touch, out of ideas and, increasingly, running out of road.”