‘The developing fodder crisis cannot be ignored any longer’

The developing fodder crisis cannot be ignored by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, any longer, according to the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Joe Healy.

Healy also called for a further meeting of the Fodder Action Group, which was established by the minister in December.

The first and only meeting of the group to date took place on December 11 and the next meeting is expected to take place early this month, but no date has been set as yet.

Chaired by Teagasc, the group comprises all the main stakeholders – including feed merchants and co-ops, as well as banking and farm bodies.

The president of the IFA believes that the credibility of the minister’s establishment of the group will be questioned unless he calls a meeting as soon as possible to deliver tangible outcomes.

Commenting on the fodder crisis, Healy said: “A Teagasc survey has clearly established that 85% of farmers affected by fodder shortages in the north-west region have, on average, less than half of the fodder they need for the winter.

“That is a very stark situation for the farmers affected and the very poor weather of the last number of days will only add to the problem.

The minister has been aware of the dire situation for some time, he has acknowledged the difficulties farmers are experiencing – but, has yet to offer any tangible support; immediate action is required.

“It is very disappointing that the minister has – to date – failed to support a meal voucher system, which we strongly believe would have been the best and most efficient solution.

“We are now seeking a commitment from the minister to fund the significant cost of transporting fodder to the areas in need,” he said.

Last month the IFA revealed it has mobilised its national county and branch network to support those farmers in most difficulty.

Counties have been twinned with a view to identifying farmers who are in a position to contribute feed, so that fodder can be transported to areas in need.