Fodder stakeholder group to meet again next week

A representative group of stakeholders, convened to coordinate advisory messages to farmers this summer around replenishing fodder stocks, will meet again next week.

The group was established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in order to “learn from the lessons of last winter and to plan for the coming winter”.

Chaired by Teagasc, the group includes stakeholders such as co-ops, banks and farm bodies – among others, according to the minister.

Any surplus stocks of fodder in the country were depleted last winter and spring. Following on from this, farmers have had to deal with drought conditions in recent weeks.

The current dry spell has stunted grass growth and farmers in some areas have been forced to graze ground which they would normally have closed for second-cut silage. Some farmers have also reported feeding first-cut silage to livestock in order to stretch supplies of grass.

Commenting on the workings of the group, Minister Creed said: “I have asked the group to provide advice and guidance to manage grazing and to ensure fodder is available to all farmers.

This group will remain in place until I am satisfied that the issue of securing adequate fodder supplies for next winter has been fully addressed.

“The group has met on two occasions and I joined the second meeting of this group by phone link to keep informed of its actions in support of livestock farmers affected by the dry conditions.”

Towards the end of June, the minister launched a national fodder census – which will be compiled by Teagasc through its client network as well as clients of the other fodder group stakeholders.

He also confirmed that another census is planned for September 1.

The aim of the census is to monitor and measure the levels of fodder in the country and it will inform further actions that may be necessary this autumn, Minister Creed explained.

Advice

Meanwhile, the minister noted that detailed agronomic advice is being “regularly coordinated and communicated” to farmers by the bodies represented on the fodder group, as well as through the department’s own social media accounts.

“In addition, a dedicated helpline to provide advice to farmers affected by the ongoing drought has been set up by Teagasc.

“This is being supplemented by a series of local meetings and clinics where farmers can obtain direct support from Teagasc advisers on the spot.

The helpline will operate daily from 9:00am to 9:00pm. It is important to emphasise that this helpline service and local clinics are open to all farmers, including non-Teagasc clients.

“Co-ops and feed compounders represented on the group have increased feed output to meet demand while banking institutions, also represented on the group, have announced a series of initiatives and are working closely with farmer-customers on effective financial planning to see them through the current difficult spell,” Minister Creed concluded.