An official lobby campaign has recently been launched to prevent fodder shortages and to demand further government support, according to the Connacht regional chair at the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The campaign aims to make sure there is enough silage next March, as there are fears about a shortage of fodder and feed on farms next year.

IFA Connacht regional chair, Pat Murphy said something can be done about it now.

“It is too late in September,” he said.

“We can make extra silage now. We can try and encourage farmers that would normally not make a second cut, to think about making it and ensure that there is enough silage.”

County chairs in the region have met with politicians who committed to try to encourage the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to get some sort of subsidy for farmers making more silage.

VAT reduction and ANC scheme

A VAT reduction on what contractors charge farmers can also help lessen the costs faced by farmers, the chair said.

“We are hoping that the [Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] will recognise that we are in a crisis at the minute and they will reduce the VAT on contractor chargers.”

County chairs in the region also seek an increase in payments under the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme.

Increased ANC payments in September would help farmers to pay the contractor or merchant, especially in the Connacht region, according to the chair.

Connacht region

The campaign started in Co. Galway, however the chair said it is being extended to Co. Mayo, moving up now to counties Roscommon and Sligo.

Plans are also in place to continue in the Ulster and North Leinster region, according to Murphy.

“I suppose it is very much specific to the west of Ireland because a lot of farmers would be small-scale beef, suckler or sheep producers that just wouldn’t have that extra money.

“They spend so much on fertiliser every year but this year it is only buying them about half the amount they need,” Murphy said.

He added that if there was a fodder shortage next February and March, considering the cost of production, no one would donate bales.

“We are looking for a number of small steps to try and make a big difference,” the IFA Connacht regional chair said.