The Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland has said that the government’s proposed silage support scheme totally ignores the reality of the increased cost of production.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue received “strong support” for the measure during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (May 3).

The scheme, which will only be open to beef and sheep farmers, will offer a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha, meaning farmers would be eligible to receive up to €1,000 each.

The minister said that payments would be made later in the year with the finer details of the package still being worked out by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

“Obviously, it is a very challenging year from a cost point of view and one of our key objectives has to be to grow as much grass this year to ensure we are fodder secure for next winter and spring.

“You can’t address all the cost challenges that are there but I think €1,000 for your average farm is a really significant contribution to the challenges facing farmers,” Minister McConalogue said.

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However, members of Independent Farmers have branded the scheme as “an insult”, “a joke” and “a waste of time”.

The group said that the cost of chemical fertilisers has quadrupled in some cases which is making it “unaffordable to the vast majority of Irish farmers”.

“This package would cover the cost of one tonne of a compound fertiliser suitable for silage production, and at a modest application rate per acre would cover the fertiliser cost of just 2.5ha for a single cut.

“By the time the applications for inclusion in the scheme can be processed and approved by DAFM, at best it might be available for the second or more realistically third cut of silage,” a spokesperson for the group claimed.

Independent Farmers noted that fertiliser is only a fraction of the cost of producing a crop of silage adding that all other required inputs such as diesel, plastic and contractor hire had also increased.

“The governments offer of €100/ha totally ignores this reality,” the group said.

“To us in Independent Farmers, the value of the government offer of support, represents less than 10% of the cost of producing 10ha of silage.

“In parallel with this derisory offer, DAFM are actively pursuing beef farmers for refunds of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, which if successful will more than cover the cost of the entire support package.

“We believe that the minister’s offer is way too little and will be too late to salvage the 2022 harvest, and pales into insignificance compared to the generous supports available to farmers in other EU member states,” the spokesperson concluded.