Feed trade calls for action as 73% more compound feed needed

The Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) estimates that 73% extra compound feed is needed to supply the national cattle herd over the coming winter.

Speaking to AgriLand, Deirdre Webb, director of the IGFA, described this estimate as “conservative”.

“A very conservative estimate at the minute is that their costs will be €718 million higher this winter. That’s extra; that’s not the feed we already make; we make 2.9 million tonnes.”

Deirdre explained that getting this amount of extra feed into the country is going to be very difficult.

It’s not possible. I would say this isn’t possible logistically. It’s going to be a very difficult winter.

‘UK grain is not in our balance sheet anymore’

“If the UK has a 14 million tonne crop and they have 3 million tonnes [of] extra wheat, I would say it’s not available. On your balance sheet, you have to take the UK out. Our first port of call is quite often the UK. It won’t be this spring.

For the first time in our history, the UK crop is going out of the balance sheet.

“We’re heading into Brexit in March 2019 and we’re heading into a winter where there’s going to be a requirement for 73% extra feed, depending on where these figures come in,” she said.

Travelling further afield will mean a longer journey, resulting in more costs and a longer wait for grain to arrive.

“The further you have to go, the more expensive it is; the freight charge is higher. The cheapest freight would be from the UK,” she noted.

Action needed from the banks

Action is needed from the banks and the Government and it’s needed now, Deirdre explained.

“We need the banks to have a granular conversation about what they intend to do.

It would be interesting to see what figures the banks and the minister are putting on the cost of this. We need to see what their intention is and how much money they’re going to make available in response.

“Farmers will need to know immediately; not in three months’ time. Farmers need to know now. They’ve had plenty of warning,” she said.

Access to feed at present

Traders and merchants are finding it difficult to access feed at present. The supply chain wasn’t ready for the results of the fodder meeting on July 19 and there was panic buying, she noted.

“It’s very, very difficult. People are getting behind on deliveries and everyday there is another problem. There are more slippages. There was extreme demand after the fodder meeting on July 19.

“From then on there was an uptake when farmers started to understand what was happening,” she commented.