Farmers have been urged to undertake an evaluation of what forage is currently available on-farm to examine the extent of the fodder deficit.

This push came from Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), who spoke to AgriLand on day one of this year’s National Ploughing Championships.

“Certainly across the south-east, north Cork and Tipperary, there is a deficit on farms. If the deficit is 15-20%, they can stretch it with concentrates; but that’s going to provide a challenge with labour and barrier space and farmers need to be prepared for that.”

When probed on the possibility of introducing a meal voucher scheme, he said: “It plays second fiddle to a transport subsidy. While we have €4.2 million for the importation of fodder, there are counties up along the north-west coast that have surpluses of fodder.

“Last year, if we were to swing the calendar of events around, there was a transport subsidy to bring the fodder from the south-east up there and we feel Minister Creed and the department need to reverse that now and have a transport subsidy to bring it down from the north-west.

“That would be our number one priority at this point in time so that the fodder could move. While quality baled silage is making €35-40/bale on-farm, it’s costing 50% of that to get it transported to the areas where it’s needed.”