Details of fodder transport subsidy not yet revealed

No details of a suspected fodder transport scheme to support farmers affected by the fodder crisis have been revealed following the second meeting of the Fodder Action Group in Sligo this morning.

But, the feeling from the meeting is that an announcement is imminent.

This only represents the second time the Fodder Action Group – which is chaired by Teagasc and consists of farm organisations, feed merchants, co-ops, banking institutions and department officials – has met since being established in early December.

The chairman of the Sligo branch of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Gabriel Gilmartin, said he is extremely disappointed at the lack of a conclusive announcement relating to a transport subsidy for fodder at today’s meeting.

He was equally disappointed that no concession on the provision of meal vouchers was forthcoming either.

Speaking following the meeting, Gilmartin said: “Despite recent soundings to the contrary, regrettably no announcement on a transport subsidy was forthcoming today.

The ICSA is seeking meal vouchers, as they are a critical component in alleviating the crisis. ICSA is arguing that meal vouchers can offer a better-value solution than transporting fodder across the country at huge cost.

“These would have to be in the order of €40/t and must be central to any solution,” he said.

Gilmartin said there were further concerns arising due to indications from department officials present at the meeting that the transport of straw wouldn’t be subsidised in any event.

“This declaration has compounded the difficulties; however, the ICSA will continue to press for transport subsidies for straw – as well as hay and silage – as a matter of urgency,” he added.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Donegal branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Michael Chance, indicated that the association “pushed hard” for a meal voucher system.

He believes that a meal voucher system would “take the heat” out of the current roughage market.

Commenting on the fodder situation in Co. Donegal, he said: “We have a load of haylage coming up from Co. Waterford; it takes a significant amount of money to transport it that distance.

We’re just keeping ahead of the problem here; but, I don’t know how much longer we can keep doing that for.

An announcement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine relating to a fodder transport support subsidy is expected in the coming days.