Feed fears: 75% dairy hike, 20% beef hike, 10% suckler hike

An immediate implementation of a low-cost loans scheme was top of the agenda for the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), amid estimated annual feed requirement increases of up to 75%.

Irish dairy farmers are facing an increase of up to 75% in their feed requirement for 2018, it was revealed at the IFA’s pre-Budget 2019 submission briefing earlier today (Wednesday, August 22).

Speaking at the event, IFA economist Edel Kelly quoted recent summer estimates obtained from Teagasc to underline the need for credit for farmers.

In grim reading for livestock farmers, beef finishing farms are looking at a 20% increase in feed requirements, while suckler farmers are facing a 10% hike in feed intake.

Kelly said: “Teagasc has estimated increases of feed requirements on dairy farms to be in the region of 75%.

“These types of things are very, very worrying in terms of financial strain and pressures that will come on farmers towards the end of the year.

Financial strain

“So, as well as having to feed their silage to their animals that they would have planned to feed next winter, they are going to be in a situation next November, December, potentially where they have no feed and will be forced to purchase forage and concentrates.

“Again, this is not just an Irish issue; it’s a global issue – there’s shortages all over the world. So, globally there will be a shortage of feed, and we’re definitely concerned about these things for Irish incomes.

“In terms of farm finance, when we look at Teagasc estimates for annual feed requirements for this year, their estimates are a 75% increase on an annual basis up on last year on dairy farms.

“Less so on beef farms because they have a lesser amount of feed requirements.

These types of issues are not just down to poor management.

“It’s not the poorest farmers or worst-performing farmers that were affected this year, but the best farmers were very much affected as well,” Kelly stressed.

Kelly said that the IFA calls on the Government to make available the low-cost loans that were promised in last year’s budget.

Budget priorities

IFA president Joe Healy highlighted that support for the suckler cow is a key priority, with the organisation calling for a targeted payment of €200 per suckler cow.

He added that Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments are also crucial, seeking a funding boost of €73 million to bring the overall ANC budget to €300 million overall.

Returning to the issue of low-cost loans, he noted the huge demand that was there last year for loans.

Within three weeks of them being put out there to the people, they were oversubscribed. That shows the demand that was there for a bit of competition in the marketplace, but also for that particular money.

“We’re not one bit happy that what was announced in last year’s budget hasn’t been rolled out yet; I think it’s imperative that that is rolled out immediately.

“But, our ask today is that there is a low-cost loans scheme for both working capital and on-farm investment announced in the upcoming budget,” Healy said.