Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue must support hill farmers through the input-cost crisis, national hill farming chair at the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Cáilin Conneely has said.

All beef and sheep farmers must receive financial support in the form of a per-head payment, in addition to existing payments, to ensure that hill farmers can afford to continue to feed their animals, he said.

At a recent National Hill Farming Committee meeting, members expressed concerns about the lack of urgency shown by the minister, according to chair Conneely.

A firm plan must be urgently implemented to address the growing concern surrounding looming food-security issues. The national hill farming chair said:

“Hill farmers who carry stock for the winter urgently need support as the exponential rise in costs is further eroding already low margins.”

Beef and sheep farmers who carry stock are facing increased costs due to the escalation of input prices, particularly the cost of fertiliser, feed and fuel, the chair said.

All land must be utilised to produce food. Therefore, Conneely said, any restrictions, including those on traditional hay meadow and low-input grasslands, must be addressed.

This is needed to ensure that farmers are facilitated in using all lands at their disposal to produce food, the chair added.

While the IFA acknowledged the €55m silage support package, due to the scale of current challenges faced by farmers, this is simply not enough and more support is needed, Conneely said.