There are currently “no plans” for a fodder scheme for farmers affected by flooding in the Shannon Callows, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has said.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said in the Dáil last week (October 26) that “at this time, there are no plans to introduce a further fodder support scheme for farmers in the Shannon Callows”.

The €56 million Fodder Support Scheme was launched in June 2022 by the minister following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

“The aim of the scheme was to incentivise farmers, in particular drystock farmers, to grow more fodder (silage and/or hay) to reduce the risk of animal welfare issues over the 2022 winter and 2023 spring,” Minister McConalogue said.

The 2023 Fodder Support Scheme was then launched in November 2022, and an advance payment of €30 million was made in December 2022.

However, local residents and farmers in the Shannon Callows have been protesting this summer over lack of action to damage caused by the flooding.

Support for Shannon Callows farmers

Earlier this month, Sinn Féin TD, Claire Kerrane called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for fodder support following summer flooding that took place at the Shannon Callows.

The deputy said that lands have been “absolutely devastated” by flooding this summer, putting “huge financial pressure” on farmers.

Deputy Kerrane said fodder support would help farmers in the “short-term”, but that in the longer term,  “a single agency” was needed for managing the River Shannon.

“We cannot keep allowing flooding to devastate farmers’ homes and lands over and over again. I ask for an update on the legislation,” Deputy Kerrane said.

Members of the Save Our Shannon Organisation (SOSO) met with Tánaiste Micheál Martin last month (September 15) to receive an insight into what members of the organisation described as the “plight of the farming families living in the Shannon area”.

According to the chairman of the group, Michael Silke, flood water was 0.61m higher than normal summer levels in both Lough Allen and the area south of Athlone. 

Silke said that this “equates to” 7,000ac of land currently under water and destruction of 70,000 to 80,000 bales of silage needed for winter fodder.

He said the callows land was only used for one month this year and added that the summer flood could have been kept within the banks of the River Shannon, “if correct management was implemented”.