The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has ruled out temporary changes to the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) as a way to meet any shortfall in fodder this year.

Independent TD Michael McNamara called on the minister to allow the temporary adjustments which he said would enable farmers in the scheme to cut more hay and silage.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday (Thursday, May 26), the Co. Clare representative said:

“Farmers with low-input permanent pasture cannot cut hay and silage if they are in GLAS. The Minister is trying to incentivise them to do so but they cannot.

“Will they, on a temporary basis for this year or for as long as this fertiliser crisis lasts, be allowed to cut silage?

“Likewise, traditional hay meadows can only be cut once because cutting can only take place after a certain deadline [July 1]. Will that deadline be brought forward to allow for a second cut this year?” McNamara asked.

meadow GLAS

In response, Minister McConalogue said that he wants to ensures that farmers get payments from schemes such as GLAS.

“It is important that the conditions of the schemes are met in order to make sure that the income is available.

“If we can ensure that farmers do what they normally do and grow grass as well as they normally do, using the land that they have, we will be in a good position next year,” he said.

The minister pointed to the recently announced silage support scheme which will reward farmers with a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to a maximum of 10ha.

“We all know that by next March or April we will not be able to grow grass or do much in relation to fodder here. As Minister, I will not be able to import fodder as I might have done in previous years.

“We do not have that safety valve. We also cannot be sure that we will have the safety valve of increasing the grain fed to cattle to mitigate a fodder shortage because we cannot be sure that there will be an adequate supply of grain available,” McConalogue said.

“What we can do is work now to grow grass, silage and hay. That is why the department [of agriculture] and my ministerial colleagues and I are working with farmers to back them in preparing for next winter and spring by putting the fodder scheme in place.

“My message to farmers is to continue doing what they are doing, in terms of really stepping up. It is very important that we recognise that now is the time to act to prevent challenges arising next winter and spring,” he added.

Deputy McNamara also asked if Minister McConalogue if he has sought to have the EU tariffs on fertiliser imports reduced or abolished.

“I have asked for that. It is disappointing that we have not had action on it yet but I have been asking for it,” the minister replied.