The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) came under fire today in the Seanad, as Fianna Fáil senator Erin McGreehan accused the department of being out of touch with the reality faced by farmers affected by recent floods. Senator McGreehan highlighted the plight of farmers in north Louth who have been severely impacted by the floods and stressed the importance of providing financial assistance to help them rebuild their lives and businesses. She described the floods as a “catastrophe” that has left many farmers unsure of how to move forward.
The senator emphasized the need for financial assistance to repair damaged equipment and infrastructure, as well as to support farmers as they enter a new season with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. With lambing season starting in north Louth and farmers preparing their fields for silage and tillage, the need for support is urgent.
Senator McGreehan expressed her disappointment with DAFM, stating that she had reached out to the department about the situation in north Louth but had not received a response from any departmental officials. In response, Minister of State Pippa Hackett acknowledged the government’s awareness of the impact of the floods on the farming community and the subsequent devastation and stress caused. She also acknowledged the damage to agricultural property due to flooding in previous years.
Minister Hackett pointed out that it is the primary responsibility of farmers and business people to ensure their properties are insured for adverse weather and future climate change. While she acknowledged that it has not been possible to compensate all those affected by last year’s weather, she highlighted the availability of schemes to assist farmers in adapting to climate change. She emphasized the importance of working together to mitigate the risk of future flood events.
However, Senator McGreehan strongly criticized the minister’s response, accusing DAFM of being detached from the reality faced by farmers. She argued that farmers are already well aware of their responsibilities regarding environmental mitigation and that the minister’s suggestion of looking at mitigating measures is unrealistic. The heated exchange between the senator and the minister exposed a deep divide over the government’s approach to supporting farmers affected by floods.
The clash in the Seanad highlights the ongoing challenges faced by farmers in the aftermath of natural disasters. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of existing support schemes and the level of communication between farmers and government departments. As the farming community continues to grapple with the aftermath of the floods, it is clear that a more proactive and responsive approach is needed to ensure their needs are met and their voices are heard.