Macra na Feirme has said that a proposed €55 million silage support scheme that is due to be brought to Cabinet this evening (Tuesday, May 3) is “a step in the right direction” but, in tune with other farm organisations’ reactions, believes it won’t go far enough.

It is understood that, under the scheme – the details of which are yet to be confirmed – farmers would receive a €100/ha payment for all silage cut, up to 10ha.

This could see farmers paid up to €1,000 to grow silage, with the payment expected to be made later this year.

Macra na Feirme president, John Keane has welcomed the minister’s move to support fodder security but much more is needed, he said.  

“At current fertiliser prices, this will support farmers to purchase approximately one tonne. Much more is going to be needed to ensure that [there is] fodder security and, indeed, food security for next autumn and winter.”

According to Teagasc, one tonne of CAN (calcium ammonium nitrate) contains 270kg of nitrogen. At peak grass growth, 1kg of nitrogen can grow up to 50kg of grass dry matter (DM), Keane explained.

“1t of CAN nitrogen could, therefore, grow 13,500kg of grass DM or 13.5t of DM. With a suckler cow eating approximately 13kg of DM silage per day this package will support the feeding of six to seven suckler cows over a five-month wintering period,” the Macra president said.

“What is now needed is clarity on the detail of the package and the requirements of farmers to access the support.”

He added that there is also a need for Teagasc to ascertain a potential gap in fodder that may exist after the package is availed of by farmers.  

“With cashflow a continued issue for smaller farmers, this silage support scheme needs to be available quickly to provide direct support,” he said.