Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue was told last week that additional support is necessary to ensure farmers have enough fodder and animal feed going forward this year.

The annual general meeting (AGM) of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) was held last Thursday (June 2) with the minister in attendance. The farm organisation called for additional further support to assist farmers with spiraling costs.

Vincent Roddy, the INHFA president, said in his closing address that farmers “need support and certainty”, and called on the minister to “consider top-up payments to existing schemes, such as the Sheep Welfare Scheme, our suckler support schemes and the Areas of Natural Constraints [ANC] scheme as a mechanism to pay farmers”.

Roddy welcomed the measures announced last month to support farmers in making hay and silage. However, he noted: “There are some farmers, especially in hill areas, that are not in the position to make hay or silage, and who buy-in all their fodder supplies.”

Because of that, these farmers will see little benefit from that support, Roddy argued.

Instead, the INHFA president suggested, top-up payments should be made to these farmers to give them flexibility around how they meet their fodder requirements, whether that be through silage, hay or meal.

Roddy went on to speak in more detail on the price of animal meal, noting that it is always in high demand in autumn and winter as farmers try to finish stock, and saying that “additional support will be essential in supporting the overall trade”.

The AGM also addressed the issue of forestry, with the INHFA calling for “a new approach with the focus being on trees on the farm rather than the trees replacing the farm”.

Minister McConalogue was also told that that there was a need for additional funding for Pillar II of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The INHFA is calling for an increase of €150 million/year in Pillar II, which the association maintains would deliver improved support for suckler and sheep farmers and greater access to the new Agri-Environment Climate Measure (AECM).

Concern was also expressed to the minister relating to access and the proposed ‘scorecard’ that will determine payment rates under the AECM.

“This is a major concern, especially on commonages where individual farmers don’t have full control of the land area,” Roddy argued.