The initial reaction to the announcement of the Fodder Support Scheme from farm organisations has been somewhat mixed so far.

Both the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) have issued responses to the scheme, with the former welcoming it but calling for further measures on input costs; and the latter sharply criticising the scheme for excluding dairy farmers.

Tim Cullinan, the president of the IFA, said that the opening of the scheme is an important step to help farmers build up feedstocks.

“However, more will be needed to cover increases in costs of production.

“The war in Ukraine has fuelled hikes in input costs, which are putting huge pressure on farmers. This week’s CSO [Central Statistics Office] figures show that the price of fertiliser has increased by 180% to the end of April, while green diesel prices have increased 25% in the last month,” Cullinan highlighted.

He added: “The minister must move quickly to announce the full details of the scheme and ensure that every farmer who applies for funding will be covered. The way input costs are going, more support will be needed.

“There are real food security concerns and it’s important that farmers are helped and supported to produce food.”

The ICMSA, meanwhile, was very critical of the exclusion of dairy farmers from the Fodder Support Scheme, and claimed the move “highlights the bias that has developed within the current government and policymakers against family farms”.

“We now have a government that has decided not to support family dairy farms and in addition is also actively working against their interests,” said ICMSA president Pat McCormack.

“It is government polices today that will lead to the demise of family farming, to be replaced by industrial scale units, in ten years’ time, unless our rural TDs stand up for family farms and insist that the government supports them,” he added.

“Input costs have gone to unprecedented levels for all farmers. This is a fact…but the minister has decided to exclude family dairy farms…while he has taken a decision to support people with substantial off-farm incomes.”

McCormack asserted that “some of the top beneficiaries” of direct payments may qualify for the scheme, while “a family dairy farm fully dependent on, for example, 60 dairy cows for its income” will not receive support under the measure.

“Furthermore, there is absolutely no recognition of those farmers exposed to fixed milk-price contracts, who are today producing a significant percentage of their milk at a considerable loss,” the ICMSA president added.