Now is the time that fodder shortage issues must be examined and dealt with, according to the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Joe Healy.
It is hugely important that the sector addresses the problem now, rather than letting it rumble on into next year, he said.
Deepening fodder supply problems – especially in the west and north-west – will have to be addressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, Healy explained.
The difficult weather conditions since August have left many farmers facing a severe fodder crisis during the winter and spring months, with cattle being housed earlier than normal and eating through reduced supplies for a longer period.
It is crucial that Minister Creed hears directly from farmers affected by the fodder shortage issues, in order to gauge the full extent of the problem, Healy said.
“I visited Leitrim last weekend with Minister of State for Agriculture Andrew Doyle to see the conditions for myself.
It is clear that many farmers were unable to get a second cut of silage and have had to house their animals earlier, using up fodder they need for the winter.
“We have to address this now rather than waiting until the new year,” he said.
Following a meeting between the IFA and Teagasc, a survey is currently underway to identify those farmers who are likely to have a problem this winter.
Discussions have also taken place with local co-ops and merchants to provide a feed mix for those farmers, the IFA added.
Cost of haulage driving up fodder prices
Meanwhile, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has also called on Minister Creed to pay a visit to the west of Ireland to witness the fodder shortage problems facing farmers first hand.
Representing the Roscommon-Galway constituency, Deputy Fitzmaurice said: “I have been informed that Leitrim, parts of Donegal, Roscommon, Galway and Mayo have been badly affected and the minister needs to visit the area to evaluate the situation and to see what measures can be put in place to assist affected farmers.
I am aware that there may be extra fodder in some parts of the country but the cost of haulage would be substantial.
“Farmers will have to assess whether paying over the odds for silage is the best move, or whether using meal along with silage might prove to be a cheaper option. Farmers should talk to their planners to ensure that they have a balanced diet for their stock and work out what is the best option for them,” the rural TD concluded.