Poll: How much longer will your fodder supply last?

Farmers around the country are facing a growing fodder crisis as supplies run low and difficult weather conditions stall grass growth.

Earlier today, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed announced that the importation of fodder must be considered as one option to alleviate the current fodder shortages farmers face.

The minister announced today that an immediate review of fodder supplies and identification of possible measures to increase fodder availability will be carried out.

Also Read: Importation of fodder being considered to alleviate current shortages

Following persistent wet weather, many fields are saturated at present. Meanwhile, the cold weather and recent heavy snowfalls have meant that grass growth is running up to three weeks behind schedule.

This has meant that farmers, who had to house their animals earlier than normal in 2017, have been forced to keep them inside for longer this year as well.

The increased pressure on fodder supplies resulted in shortages emerging – first in the west and north of the country. This situation led to the Fodder Transport Support Measure being launched by Minister Creed earlier this year.

But, since then, fodder supplies have begun to tighten in the east and south of the country as well.

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Welfare of animals and farmers a ‘major concern’

As it stands, the fodder crisis has grown to a stage where the welfare of farmers and their animals are now a major concern, according to the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack.

He outlined that it is important that farmers, family members and neighbours to support those who may be running short of fodder and to encourage them to seek help from the relevant state agencies where required.

The current situation is an exceptional crisis which requires exceptional crisis measures, according to McCormack.

In addition, Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), has insisted that Minister Creed must pull together an emergency response to tackle the fodder and income crisis on farms due to the unprecedented weather conditions this spring.

“The situation is close to a national emergency on farms, and we need an emergency response. The minster has to call together all the stakeholders involved as a matter of urgency.”

The weather over the Easter weekend has left farmers reeling at a time when they really needed a period of good weather to get things moving.

“Poor grass growth because of cold weather and wet conditions in fields due to huge rainfall has meant that farmers, who are already under pressure for fodder, have had to keep their animals indoors at a time when they should be out on grass.

“We’re now into April and with the terrible conditions over the weekend the situation is at crisis point in almost all parts of the country,” he said.

Officials from the minister’s department are scheduled to meet with representatives from Teagasc, as well as the main co-ops, tomorrow (Wednesday, April 4) to discuss the fodder situation.