Long-awaited fodder scheme launched by Minister Creed

The long-awaited fodder transport subsidy scheme for the west and north-west regions has finally been announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

The rates for the fodder subsidy will be €12 for a bale of silage/haylage and €8 for a bale of hay/straw.

In order to avail of the new haulage subsidy, the transport distance will need to exceed 100km.

Farmers will still pay the cost of the fodder in the normal way.

The measure is aimed at providing additional assistance to livestock farmers most severely affected by the prolonged wet weather last autumn.

Application forms will be available later this week.

In recent months, the country’s leading farm bodies have made repeated calls for a transport subsidy and a meal voucher system to be introduced to meet the needs of affected farmers on the ground.

Launching the measure at an ICOS event Minister Creed acknowledged that a key issue to resolve was the cost of transporting fodder between those areas where it was plentiful and those where it was scarce.

“Fodder remains available across the country; but, I am conscious of the significant additional cost to farmers where fodder has to be transported over significant distance to areas where it is most needed.

This measure builds on my early supports to farmers through prioritisation of farm payments last autumn and the additional availability of advisory support to farmers in these areas by Teagasc to facilitate fodder budgeting over the recent period.

He also highlighted that the 100km distance limit has been introduced to avoid interference with local markets.

“We don’t want to interfere with what is an active, local fodder market in the west and north-west. If you go on DoneDeal you can see the number of people offering fodder for sale in those regions.

“But there are specific localised pockets where there is a problem and we acknowledge that. It will be €8 of a subsidy for a standard hay or straw bale and €12 of a subsidy for a standard silage or haylage bale,” he said.

Farmers, who have an identified fodder shortage – having completed a fodder budgeting exercise with their agricultural advisor – will be eligible to receive a financial contribution towards offsetting the costs of transport on their fodder shortfall.

Financial assistance under the Fodder Transport Support Measure is payable in accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) aid in the agricultural production sector.

Minister Creed went on to stress that in addressing the challenges of last Autumn, the early issue of farm payments – together with those under the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme – injected over €1.3 billion into the rural economy by the end of last year; which will help to finance additional fodder purchase where necessary.

Fodder Action Group

The minister also acknowledged the effective contribution of the Fodder Action Group he convened last December in ensuring a coordinated response to the fodder problem across all the main stakeholders – including Teagasc, feed merchants, co-ops, financial institutions and the farming bodies.

As fodder is traded between farms on a regular basis, it is essential that the support measure being announced today is targeted at those who most need it and does not impact on the normal functioning of the market for fodder.

“This is now the case and I am grateful that the co-op structure is supporting the practical implementation of this measure,” he concluded.