Galway Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the Minister for Agriculture to extend the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme for one week.
Deputy Ó Cuív said that the number of fallen animals reported this year is an indication of the “huge difficulties” facing farmers as a result of the fodder crisis.
“This Friday, the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme is due to end but it needs to be extended by at least one week,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.
“If Friday’s deadline is not extended, it will result in people having to purchase fodder that they might not need because they cannot take the chance of fodder being available after the scheme finishes. Farmers do not need the added worry about wasting money on fodder they might not require, especially considering the terrible conditions they have had to work under over the past 12 months.”
He continued to say that Minister Simon Coveney’s handling of the whole fodder crisis should be called into question considering the fact that there is almost nine per cent less cattle in this country compared to 1999 “when the State was able to deal with the weather crisis”.
“Minister Coveney must now bring forward initiatives to ensure that farmers can conserve fodder in advance of next year, because it is already becoming a problem with the slow grass growth for silage this year. The Minister should relax the stocking rules under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) this year, for instance. Although some parts of the country have experienced improved weather over the past number of days, large parts of the country are still experiencing unseasonal conditions.”
The Connemara TD said that farmers were still “six weeks behind” in grass growth, which would have a knock-on affect for the rest of the year.
“Some fields are still not closed off for silage production and farmers are continuing to struggle with fodder shortages. The Minister should also arrange for free advice to be made available from Teagasc this year on how to maximise fodder output from farms and he should announce this immediately.”