‘At least 60,000 bales required to meet north-west fodder shortage’

At least 60,000 bales are required to meet the fodder shortage in the north-west alone, which has extended into counties Monaghan, Cavan and Roscommon, according to Lorcan McCabe of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA).

The deputy president of the ICMSA expressed disappointment at the reluctance of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to tackle the crisis, following the conclusion of today’s meeting of the Fodder Action Group in Sligo this morning.

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Speaking after the discussion, McCabe said: “It has been five weeks since the last meeting of this group and we came here today expecting action from the department – but, instead we were met with a response of ‘only assessing the situation’.

How many times must they be told that there is a crisis before they begin to take action?

“Most farmers in the north-west need 60-80 bales on average to meet their fodder deficit, with an estimated total of about 60,000 bales – and the department must make adequate provisions to support these farmers.

“We have made consistent recommendations to the department to subsidise the transport of forage and to introduce vouchers for ‘fodder stretcher’ ration; but, to date, these suggestions seem to have fallen on deaf ears.”

McCabe stressed that department intervention is now required, adding that the ICMSA is calling on the minister to intervene and to introduce measures without delay to support the farmers who are under extreme pressure at present.

‘The time for procrastination is over’

Meanwhile, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) deputy president Richard Kennedy said there is growing frustration among farmers over the failure by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to bring forward any measures at today’s meeting.

Kennedy said it’s incomprehensible that the minister has not delivered anything, given the scale of the difficulties for the 85% of farmers in the region who don’t have sufficient fodder.

We sent a clear message to his officials today that the time for procrastination is over.

“Our view is that a feed voucher scheme for concentrated feed/meal would have been the most efficient way to address this problem.

“While there is no doubt that farmers in some counties have some surplus fodder, it is costly to transport it and it is far from certain that there is sufficient fodder to address the problem in the worst affected areas.

“However, a transport support scheme would be welcome – so long as it is operable and put in place quickly,” the deputy president said.

In the absence of any response to the crisis from the minister, the IFA has mobilised its national county and branch network to support those farmers in most difficulty, according to the organisation.

Counties have been twinned to identify farmers who are in a position to contribute hay or silage that can be transported to areas in need and provided at a reasonable cost.

Also Read: Farmers look to band together in the face of fodder crisis

Kennedy said: “A survey undertaken by Teagasc has clearly established that 85% of farmers in the north-west region are affected by fodder shortages and have, on average, less than half of the fodder they need for the winter.

“That is a very stark situation for the farmers affected.”