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The ICOS Dairy Committee and Irish Milk Quality Co-operative Chairman, Jerry Long from Drombane Co-op has written to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed concerning the need to provide grant aid for the purchase of stand by generators and associated changeover switches.

Recent extreme weather including ex-Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian resulted in enormous damage including tragically the lives of three people. In the first instance, the response of the Government was extremely commendable and ensured the loss of life, however awful was limited. In the aftermath of both storms, it is also important to recognise the response by essential service providers including the emergency services and ESB Networks in returning power supplies to rural households and farm businesses.

The response of rural communities also demonstrated the best qualities of co-operation and community spirit with farmers and co-operatives working tirelessly to assist their neighbours and members without power for a prolonged period.

The storms resulted in several difficulties at farm level and disrupted milk collection in several parts of the country. The impact of the storms also demonstrated the severe shortage of suitable generators available on farms. The frequency of extreme weather events is very likely to increase in future due to climate change. As such, it is essential that farmers are encouraged to invest in a generator to future proof their businesses against power outages.

In order to ensure farmers are better equipped to deal with future extreme weather events, ICOS and the IMQCS has called on Minister Creed to amend the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS II) to include grant aid provision for standby generators and associated changeover switches.

We also believe it would be sensible to make the installation of a changeover switch mandatory as part of all new parlour and dairy electrical installations, with an appropriate increase in the relevant reference cost.

Eamonn Farrell

Agri Food Policy Executive