‘All our data suggests that there isn’t a national fodder crisis’

Data available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine suggests that there isn’t a national fodder crisis, the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said.

Speaking to AgriLand while on a trade mission to Japan and South Korea, the minister said: “All our data suggests that there isn’t a national fodder crisis. There is sufficient fodder in the country; there may be regional issues and in due course – if needs be – we will respond.

“We have Teagasc experts in farmers’ yards the length and breadth of the country to evaluate the situation. If there is an issue that needs to be responded to, then obviously the department will be responding on that information that Teagasc brings to us.

However, I remain to be convinced that there is a farmer that doesn’t have fodder today.

“We have to keep an eye on the situation as it evolves and I know ground conditions were difficult in the back end of the year.

“There was anecdotal evidence of second cut silage not being got and cattle being housed earlier, so they are all the ingredients certainly for something that needs to kept under close scrutiny; this is an issue that we will keep under surveillance.

“Teagasc are the eyes and ears on the ground to do assessments. The suggestion is that it is a problem in the north-west, so obviously that’s where there is a focus and if a message comes back that it deserves or requires a policy response from the department then we won’t be found wanting.

“But, it would be foolish to jump in without the data,” he concluded.

The minister has been called upon to visit the worst hit areas in the west and north-west in order to hear directly from farmers affected by the fodder shortage issues.

Airing on the side of caution

Meanwhile, Peter Burke – a Fine Gael TD for the Longford-Westmeath constituency – has backed Minister Creed’s approach to the issue.

Speaking on Shannonside FM, Burke said: “He (Minister Creed) has to be careful how he spends his budget. He has to be sure of the extent of the problem.

We’re in a time when resources are still pretty scarce – so we have to be careful.

“But no farmer will be left in a situation whereby there is a welfare issue to their animals. That will not happen under this government – I want to be very clear on that.”