Fodder shortage: Farmers cannot depend on a ‘hope for the best’ policy

Farmers cannot depend on a ‘hope for the best’ policy when it comes to expected fodder shortages this winter, according to the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack.

He has urged the Government to be proactive and to support the importation of fodder now through a fodder import scheme.

The fodder shortage is fast becoming an EU wide problem and if we don’t move now, fodder may not be available later in the year, McCormack added.

Also Read: ‘It is vitally important that European fodder is secured while it is still available’

Based on the Teagasc mid-year review, Irish dairy farmers are facing an €800 million income hit in 2018, McCormack said.

This does not take account of the equally significant income hits in the other farm sectors, he added.

The president of the ICMSA fears that the situation could get even worse, depending on weather conditions between now and next April.

Let’s be very clear; the impact of the weather-related issues in farming since this last time year will not only hit farmers pockets, but will impact right across rural Ireland. This is an issue that will simply have to be moved up the agenda of Government.

Having met farmers across the country this week, McCormack said that the level of concern and stress on farmers is “unprecedented“.

He believes that “very concrete measures” are going to have to be implemented to boost fodder supplies and reduce demand for fodder – through live exports for example.

The president of the ICMSA also called on the Government to bring in the meat processors and agree a plan that will allow farmers to reduce stock numbers in a financially feasible way.

Cash flow

Continuing, McCormack said: “In addition, cash flow pressures are now also coming to the fore and the Brexit Loan Scheme has to be implemented.

“This was announced almost a year ago and farmers cannot understand why it has not been implemented, which is in sharp contrast to the loan scheme for other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – which has been in place for many months.

We’re in a cash flow crisis and this loan scheme must be rolled out now.

Advance payments

Meanwhile, McCormack stressed that all farmers must receive their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments on October 16 and that payments under the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) must be made within the Farmers’ Charter commitment.

“GLAS payments have not been made within charter in previous years and this cannot re-occur in 2018.

“The GLAS conditions must also be further reviewed to allow the maximum amount of fodder to be harvested from GLAS farms over the remainder of this year,” he concluded.