Below is reply by the Agriculture Minister to the most recent Parliamentary Question I tabled in Dáil Éireann re the urgent need to introduce a Fodder Aid Scheme.
“It is most regrettable that the Minister for Agriculture continues to ignore our ongoing appeals to have a Fodder Aid Scheme introduced. Many farmers in this region are facing a very difficult situation as fodder supplies are running out.
The least the Minister could do is fund the transport of fodder from the South and East of the country and also provide some financial assistance towards the costs of other feedstuff. The Government needs to listen to the genuine concerns of farmers affected by fodder shortages.”
For Written Answer on : 14/12/2017
Question Number(s): 578 Question Reference(s): 54121/17
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if he will give further consideration to the introduction of a fodder aid scheme following the Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion on this issue and the difficulties facing farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Brendan Smith TD
Weather conditions over much of this Autumn have been challenging for farmers and created difficulties for farmers particularly in the Western regions and on heavier land types.
Grass growth rates through the autumn have been ahead of last year. However the poor weather resulted in cattle being housed earlier than normal in places, particularly on the heavier soils; it also affected late cut silage making operations.
I have asked Teagasc to work locally in areas with fodder difficulties, supporting good budgeting of fodder supplies on farms for the winter ahead.
The European Commission agreed to my request for an advance payment of the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme. This meant an increase from 50% to 70% in the rate for the BPS to those applicants whose applications were confirmed fully clear and 85% payment of our main Agri-environment scheme, GLAS. Issuing of these payments commenced after the 15th October.
Over ■1.2 billion in payments has issued to farmers over recent weeks, something that has significantly improved cash flow on these farms.
In order to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the issue of fodder availability, I recently convened a fodder group which is made up of all the main stakeholders including feed merchants and co-ops, banking, farm bodies etc and the first meeting took place on Monday 11th December chaired by Teagasc. The group’s objective is to actively monitor the situation and to ensure co-ordinated expertise and guidance is available to all farmers impacted.
Arising from the meeting, Teagasc will begin a survey of fodder availability in the east and south of the country to ascertain what supplies are still available for purchase, across the country.
Exploring these avenues means my Department will be fully informed of the situation on the ground and the best possible advice will be provided to farmers re their options which may include sourcing alternative feed, reducing non breeding stock numbers and ensuring they carry out a fodder budget.
I will continue to actively monitor the situation in the impacted areas over the coming period.