Fodder transport subsidy must be ‘appropriately targeted’ – Minister Creed

A prospective fodder transport subsidy – or any other “prudent measure” brought forward – must be appropriately targeted to those worst affected by the fodder crisis, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

In a statement released to AgriLand, Minister Creed said: “As outlined at the weekend, my department is engaging with stakeholders – including through a fodder task force – with a view to providing a targeted contribution towards long-distance transport of fodder, to those areas most impacted by the adverse weather.

“Fodder sale and purchase is a normal and significant trade between farms on an annual basis and it is important that any prudent measure brought forward is appropriately targeted to those most impacted – whilst not impacting negatively on this trade.

I would also stress that if a situation arises where the welfare of livestock is at risk, herdowners should contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare helpline or their Regional Veterinary Office for support.

Minister Creed made the comments after the second ever meeting of the Fodder Action Group took place today (Monday, January 15) in Sligo. No details of a fodder transport subsidy were discussed and farm organisations continued to push hard for a meal voucher system.

Also Read: Details of fodder transport subsidy not yet revealed

Poor weather conditions for much of last autumn and early winter were challenging for farmers, particularly in parts of the west and north-west. This forced many farmers to house their stock earlier than expected and disrupted some farmers’ efforts to conserve fodder.

Prioritisation of farm support payments

As a result of this, Minister Creed outlined that he prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers with cash flow.

He said: “The European Commission agreed to my request, informed in part by the poor weather conditions of last autumn, for an advance payment of the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme and agri-environment schemes.

These payments commenced after the earliest date possible – which was October 15, and balancing payments issued in early December.

“These payments, together with those issued under the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme, injected over €1.3 billion into the Irish rural economy by the end of last year and are providing a very welcome boost for Irish farm families and will help to finance fodder purchases where necessary,” he said.

In early December, Minister Creed then established the Fodder Action Group – which is chaired by Teagasc and consists of farm organisations, feed merchants, co-ops, banking institutions and department officials.

The group’s objective is to actively monitor the situation and to ensure co-ordinated expertise and guidance is available to affected farmers regarding their options, the minister explained.

These may include sourcing alternative feed, reducing non-breeding stock numbers and ensuring they continue to carry out fodder budgeting, he said.