The Irish Farmers’ Association has demanded the Government immediately double its fodder import subsidy in response to the ongoing fodder shortages.
The IFA has called on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, TD, for the fodder import subsidy to be raised from €60 to €120 per bale and a doubling of the 20,000-tonne limit.
This will help to bring in more fodder, which can then be provided at a reduced price to all farmers, according to the IFA.
President of the IFA, Joe Healy, said that many farmers are at breaking point due to the pressures and stresses arising from the fodder problems and related difficulties.
“The Minister has said that more funding for the scheme would be provided if it was needed,” Healy said. “The unanimous and strongly-held view of our Council members today is that more is needed and it is needed now.”
The heavy overnight rain in many parts of the country at the beginning of the week added to the severe financial difficulties that Irish farmers are facing causing further delays in getting cattle out to grass as the ground conditions have had no chance to improve, according to Healy.
He added that the 50km restrictions of the national transport fodder subsidy also had to be abolished and the payments of the subsidy should go directly to the co-op,, removing the necessity for farmers to apply.
“This will avoid farmers having to pay the cost upfront and overcome the massive bureaucracy that is crippling the movement of fodder,” Healy said.
Several dairy co-operatives have cut their March milk prices in response to the fodder crisis, including Kerry Group, Glanbia and LacPatrick Dairies. Kerry Group will also pay farmers a bonus of 1.5c per litre on all milk supplied during the first three months of the year.
Fianna Fáil brought forward a motion in the Dáil debate on the fodder crisis yesterday evening which will be put to a vote tomorrow.
It includes measures such as a hardship fund for small and medium-sized farmers, the introduction of a meal voucher scheme for farmers affected by the crisis and the provision of low-cost credit to farmers to help them pay for costs of sourcing emergency fodder.
The motion received cross-party support from Sinn Féin, Labour, the Green Party and a number of independent TDs.
Fianna Fáil’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue had previously said that the Government has been “caught totally cold in relation to the response” to the fodder crisis.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.