Fertiliser and slurry spreading extension labelled as ‘categorically insufficient’

The recently announced extension of the fertiliser and slurry spreading period has been welcomed by farm leaders, however, further “suites of measures” will be required to address fodder fears, it has been stated.

Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced that some flexibility had been secured on an extension to the closed period for spreading chemical and organic fertilisers, in the hopes of allowing farmers to maximise autumn grass growth for fodder production.

The minister said that the deadline has been extended for chemical fertiliser from mid September until the end of September, and the deadline for the application of organic manures from mid October to the end of October.

Commenting on the move, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, welcomed the measure.

However, he observed that on its own it would “categorically not be sufficient” to address what is almost certain to be a “fodder crisis” this coming winter and into next spring.

“The announcement must form part of a suite of measures designed to address what was already clearly a very, very concerning situation with farmers all over the state already out of fodder and having to buy feed from merchants – to whom they might owe substantial sums from the spring fodder shortage.

The severity of the situation could not be overestimated,” he said.

While he agreed that the first priority was to maximise the amount of fodder that could be produced domestically, McCormack believes it is “highly unlikely” that there is capacity within the system to produce sufficient quantities at this stage.

A systematic operation to source and import fodder from overseas locations would have to be planned, aided and introduced as early as possible.

The ICMSA leader highlighted ongoing issues over crop failures and low grass production throughout mainland Europe over the summer months.

As such, he outlined that demand for spare and available fodder will soar for the season ahead.

“It is necessary for the Irish Government to move quickly and decisively to source and facilitate importation,” he said.

Meat Industry Absence

Noting the minister’s references to the Fodder Coordination Group, the ICMSA president repeated his association’s request that the meat industry be asked to attend and contribute to the workings of that group as they were a significant stakeholder in the sector.

“The meat industry’s absence from the Fodder Coordination Group was both curious and disappointing,” he said.