Fodder shortage: Supports needed for lowly-stocked farms to grow more silage

The Department of Agriculture has been called upon to introduce supports or measures to mobilise lowly-stocked farmers to grow more silage.

This comes as farmers are facing into a winter without adequate fodder reserves to see them through.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association’s (ICMSA’s) deputy president, Lorcan McCabe, called on Minister Creed to take action.

He said: “There’s plenty of potential to make surplus silage and we need an incentive for lowly-stocked farmers to do that.

“The one reason someone mightn’t make extra silage at the moment is they would be very concerned about getting paid for it. They need an incentive from the government to rent out their land for a short period.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Fodder Committee this week, McCabe suggested the formation of a scheme from the Department of Agriculture which would see some lowly-stocked farmers rent out their land on a short-term basis to farmers in need of silage.

He also urged the minster to look at possible ways of incentivising such a measure by providing the farmer with €30-40/ac for leasing out their land on a short-term basis.

“At this stage minister, we are in dire straights and the deficit is huge.”

Eddie Punch, general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), added: “I think the key issue is actually cash flow and there is the potential on heavy ground to grow a significant quantity of additional silage.

Heavy ground is in better condition than it’s ever been. Once the rain comes, they [farmers on heavy ground] will be incentiviesed to grow additional silage for themselves.

“The potential is for them to grow extra silage for other people as well; but they won’t do that unless they can be sure of getting paid and we have to look at options that they can get paid.”

Meanwhile, Arrawbawn Co-op’s Tom Starr called on the minster to look at a derogation for fertiliser spreading past the September 15 deadline.

“If there are grazings taken at the end of September / early October, it might be an idea to get fertiliser out to push on grass growth in the autumn,” he said.

Responding, the minster said: “That is an issue we are looking at. It doesn’t require a decision at this moment. But I do appreciate that we do need to maximise back-end grass growth.”