A National Fodder and Food Security Committee is being established in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed.

The announcement followed a meeting between Charlie McConalogue, seven farming organisations and Teagasc last evening (Tuesday, March 8).

The focus of the meeting was the impact on Irish agriculture and supply chains “following the illegal invasion of Ukraine”.

The minister and officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) outlined that supply chains from the region will be disrupted for some time.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major global players in the feed and fertiliser trade.

“Our great sector is facing one of the most significant challenges in recent years. At times like these, we must take proactive steps to limit any potential disruption to our feed and food supply chains.

“I know farmers will rise to the challenge and meet it head on. By working collectively and collaboratively, we can ensure that the sector is insulated against the worst of what might come from supply chain disruptions,” McConalogue stated.

Food security committee

During the meeting, Minister McConalogue announced that he has tasked Teagasc to lead a new National Fodder and Food Security Committee.

This group will examine ways to lessen the impact of the conflict on Irish farms in the short to medium term. It will meet for the first time this Friday (March 11).

“There is a window of opportunity in the next number of weeks to make decisions to help us build resilience. The work of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee is the number one priority in the department,” the minister said.

McConalogue confirmed that he will meet representatives from the fertiliser, grain and importing industries today.

Farming organisations

The IFA delegation led by president Tim Cullinan attending the round table meeting on food security, with the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue discussing measures needed to generate more food production in the country. Image: Finbarr O’Rourke

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president expressed disappointment following yesterday’s meeting.

“We didn’t see any specific proposals required to increase our capacity to produce food. We need real government action on the price of fuel, fertiliser and feed.

“He [Minister McConalogue] said farmers will play their part in any national effort, but the crushing impact of rising input prices has to be addressed,” Tim Cullinan stated.

Meanwhile, Macra na Feirme welcomed the establishment of a National Fodder and Food Security Committee, but also called for a fully supported forage protein scheme to be set up.

“It is crucial that this committee meet as soon as possible as farmers are making decisions in the coming days and weeks regarding securing both feed and cereal production,” Macra president, John Keane said.

“Farmers need drastic support in terms of input costs and the threats to supply chains.

“Fertiliser costs, fuel costs and the availability of seed are key issues that need to be addressed in a forage security scheme, which is funded to allow farmers to sow crops and spread the fertilisers necessary for high levels of output.”