SENATOR Timmy Dooley has defended his decision to post a video on social media from the port of Shannon Foynes hailing the first shipment of grain to Ireland from Ukraine since its invasion last February.
This follows scathing criticism and claims by a North Clare farmer that politicians who hailed the arrival of 30,000 tonnes of maize for animal feed have been campaigning for votes from dairy and cattle producers.
The Panamanian-flagged NAVI STAR left the port of Odessa on August 5, carrying 33,000 tonnes of grain to Ireland on behalf of Cork-based grain and feed company R&H Hall.
Senator Dooley posted a short video on Facebook after visiting Shannon Foynes Port on Saturday, August 19, to witness the delivery of 30,000 tons of grain for animal feed.
In his message, he said: “This is a very important expedition to secure feed for our dairy and beef cattle over the coming winter, enabling Irish farmers to in turn feed the Irish population and many people across Europe and other parts of the world.
However, Farm and Forestry Contractors Association of Ireland (FCI) West Division secretary Shane Nolan claimed the arrival of ‘cheap grain’ was intended to drive down prices for farmers working on the ground who harvest their crops.
“There will be no shortage of fodder this winter. The silage pits burst and are full to overflowing. Every farm is full of animal feed. Is there any traceability for this shipment from a non-EU country? »
A few years ago, he claimed, when the IFA examined grain imported from a non-EU country, it contained lots of empty corn husks and black grass.
Commenting on Senator Dooley’s video, Mr Nolan claimed the Fianna Fail representative released it because he could get more votes from cattle and dairy farmers compared to the much smaller number of farmers.
Mr Nolan also criticized the government’s national tillage scheme providing €400 per hectare for growing cereals.
“It would be like asking me to go milk cows. I can barely distinguish the front from the back of a cow. To give me a scholarship to go and milk the cows would be ridiculous.
“What does a dairy or cattle farmer know about tillage? I have harvested tillage for some farmers and there is weeds, grass, dirt and crop failure because they did not manure it properly. These farmers do not have machines.
“Tilling requires a huge investment in buildings and equipment.”
Saying he felt sorry for Ukrainians who had been affected by the war, he questioned why grain imports were allowed while at the same time the government had been trying to encourage farmers to grow more ground work.
Previously involved in electronics, Mr Nolan quit his job in Dublin in the early 90s and took over his father’s farm in Finavara and started renting land for tillage, which he has been involved in ever since. over 30 years.
Mr Nolan recalled that decades ago Ireland was self-sufficient in grain production until new restrictions were introduced requiring farmers to grow three different crops if they had 30 hectares.
He claimed the government was hampering farmers by constantly changing tillage rules and imposing draconian restrictions.
Responding to Mr Nolan’s claims, Senator Dooley told farmer Clare Champion Clare and farmers across the West of Ireland that they used grain to finish their livestock in addition to silage and grass during the winter period.
“Apart from the grass-based forage supply, there is always a need for grain as an input in finishing beef cattle. Every year, Ireland imports grain from Russia and Ukraine. This year, there was particular concern because of the sanctions imposed on Russia and the difficulty in getting grain out of Ukraine.
“Many farmers I spoke to were deeply concerned that grain could not be brought into Ireland because of the Black Sea blockade. This grain should have been in Ireland about six months ago just for the blockade.
“Those of us who visited Foynes on Saturday met the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland and welcomed the fact that we are once again gaining access to Ukrainian grain in Ireland. It is positive to ensure that farmers will have access to cereals to meet their needs during the winter period,” he said.
“This will allow farmers to continue producing milk and beef, which will be exported to Europe and beyond, for the benefit of Irish farmers. We live in a globalized economy where trade is an integral part of it.
“Importing fertilizers and grains from places like Ukraine enables the export of dairy products and beef to European and non-European markets.
“Some people might like a grain shortage and could take advantage of it. Ireland has never been self-sufficient in grain production, if we were to grow all grain crops we wouldn’t have enough grass to support ourselves.
“While grain is produced for milling and brewing, there is a focus in Ireland on producing milk and beef from grass,” he added.