‘Forage Register’ set up to combat worsening fodder crisis

A ‘Forage Register’ has been set up by Teagasc in an effort to help combat the fodder shortages facing many farmers across the country at present.

The register has been established to help farmers who have run out of silage and other fodder to source supplies from those with a surplus.

Farmers who have silage to sell are invited to ring their Teagasc office to get it listed on the register. All Teagasc clients will receive a text asking them to register any supplies of fodder they may have on regional fodder registers.

A list of names, telephone numbers and details of forage available will then be compiled; this list will then be made available to farmers in the market for forage.

This was one of the key actions to emerge from a meeting of industry stakeholders to discuss the current weather-related difficulties being experienced on farms, according to Teagasc.

Representatives from Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as well as the major dairy co-operatives met in Moorepark on Thursday, March 29, to review the situation.

Budgeting feed

Speaking after the meeting, the head of the Teagasc advisory service, Dermot McCarthy, said that given the late spring and slow grass growth rates it will be essential for many farmers to budget feed to meet the minimum roughage requirement of stock for the next three to four weeks.

“To achieve this, it is important to act now and complete a feed budget which will indicate how much silage can be fed on a daily basis to stock to stretch the feed and how the balance of requirements can be met from grass and supplements.

On balance, most people need to be feeding more meals to fill the gap.

Meanwhile, Dr. Siobhan Kavanagh – Teagasc regional advisory manager for counties Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford – indicated that grass growth this spring has been less than 50% of normal rates.

“Nitrogen fertiliser should be applied immediately to ensure maximum grass growth once temperatures begin to rise towards normal levels.

“Farmers need to be flexible and get stock out to graze dry ground, when possible. However, all farmers should avoid starting the second grazing rotation until mid-April at the earliest,” she said.

Farmers are encouraged to contact their local Teagasc office to request assistance in completing fodder budgets. As well as this, fodder clinics are planned to take place in local offices.

Teagasc advisors can also provide support over the phone to farmers.

‘Crippling fodder crisis’

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has been called upon by independent TD Mattie McGrath to clarify what additional measures he is taking in order to offset the “crippling fodder crisis” that is facing the farming sector.

Deputy McGrath also requested that Minister Creed provide details on the effectiveness of the Fodder Transport Support Measure that was launched by his department earlier this year.

While I accept that the minister does not want to interfere in local fodder market supply, he must offer firm guarantees that everything that can be done will be done to ensure that fodder is available in adequate amounts to farmers who are struggling under the wet and cold weather conditions.

Continuing, he added: “The unfortunate reality at this stage is that the only thing the prolonged bad weather has helped to flourish and grow is the levels of anxiety that farmers and farming families are experiencing.

“The minister must clarify what exactly is being done and then get that information out to the farmers on the ground as soon as humanly possible.”