‘Farmers are going to have all their fodder used by Christmas’

Farmers are going to have all their fodder used by Christmas, according to the national president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Colm O’Donnell.

O’Donnell called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to put a fodder aid package in place in order to help affected farmers.

The situation is escalating and is reaching crisis point on many farms, the INHFA president said.

The INHFA prioritised a fodder aid package in its pre-budget submission to Minister Creed for farmers who experienced heavy rainfall on their farms during the summer and autumn months.

With cattle housed since late August, many farmers are going to have all their fodder used by Christmas – which means that now is the time for action.

As part of that pre-budget submission, the INHFA had suggested ways of implementing the scheme such as a meal voucher scheme or a transport haulage discount to subsidise the cost of moving fodder across the country – as well as a role for Teagasc, O’Donnell added.

However, Minister Creed outlined recently that data available to the department suggests that there isn’t a national fodder crisis.

Commenting on the matter, 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.

He confirmed that the situation will be kept under review by the department and Teagasc.

Meanwhile, the INHFA president added that the 10 highest rainfall levels recorded in 2017 were in the land areas that currently fall within the most constrained areas for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme.

He believes this legitimises the INHFA’s call that the additional funding for the 2018 ANC Scheme must be targeted by Minister Creed.

The INHFA is set to host a national public meeting on Friday, December 1, to highlight these two issues. All farm families are urged to turn in order to send a strong message to the minister and government politicians.

Speakers on behalf of the government and opposition agriculture spokespersons are expected to be in attendance on the night. The venue for the national rally – which is scheduled to get underway at 8:00pm – has been set as the Sligo Southern Hotel.