The introduction of a fodder-crop incentive scheme for tillage farmers should be considered urgently by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

With the very favourable weather in July, a significant area of winter barley is now harvested and even baled across the country, and progress running at least seven to 10 days ahead of a typical year, said the IFA National Grain Committee chair, Kieran McEvoy.

“There is a great opportunity for tillage farmers to get forage crops sown after winter barley at an optimal time, but a financial contribution towards establishment and fertiliser costs, which are very significantly higher than the past five years, is urgently needed for this to happen at a meaningful level,” he said.

A fodder-crop incentive scheme, similar to the one launched in 2018, is critical for certain livestock sectors such as the store lambs, he explained.

“Grass growth rates have declined on the back of higher soil moisture deficits in the mid-east and south eastern regions of the country and late summer grass in these areas underpins the store lamb production system” the IFA National Grain Committee chair added.

“Time of is the essence here, a commitment from the minster and his officials on a forage crop support scheme is needed quickly for both sheep and tillage farmers before the store lamb trade starts and the optimal sowing window passes,” he said.