IFA president Joe Healy has said the deepening fodder problems needs to be addressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed. The fodder crisis will be discussed at an important IFA meeting tomorrow, Friday, December 1, in Claremorris, Co Mayo, at 8pm.
Joe has called on Minister Creed to indicate that he will introduce a scheme. He said three key actions are required:
• progress on the Teagasc evaluation of areas affected;
• the introduction of a fodder transport subsidy; and,
• the introduction of meal vouchers for critical areas.
Joe said: “From what we have seen on the ground, including when Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle, joined us to survey the conditions on farms affected, there is no doubt that there is an urgent need for a scheme. Minister Creed should get on with it and introduce one immediately. Farmers who are under extreme pressure because of the challenges facing them expect a strong response from the Minister and the Government.
“Our meeting will hear directly from the farmers affected. Speakers will include representatives from the Farmers Journal, Teagasc and Aurivo. All farmers from the western region are encouraged to attend,” he said.
According to Joe, urgent action is needed to assist farmers in affected areas, mainly in the north-west and west of the country. The difficult weather conditions since August have left many farmers facing a severe fodder crisis during the winter and spring months.
“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 silage from first cut and other fodder they need for the winter. We have to address this now as the problem has become acute; we cannot wait until the New Year,” he said.
Other issues to be discussed at the meeting on December 1 include how the €25m increase in Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) funding secured by IFA for 2018 can be used to support farm incomes; the need to ensure all outstanding direct payments are made immediately; and an update on CAP 2020.
Support for suckler farmers will also be a focus of the meeting on Friday. Joe said it is very clear the suckler-cow herd is under immense pressure and increased targeted direct payments are necessary to protect and support the sector, "the suckler-cow herd is the backbone of our quality-beef exports".