KILDARE farmers are facing a fodder crisis as supplies tighen across the county.
Chairman of Kildare IFA, Brian Rushe, says the price of a bail of straw has doubled in the county to €30 and he is recommending that farmers stretch each bail by mixing it with concentrate.
He said farmers are also facing the nuclear option of having to sell stock as buying fodder has become uneconomical.
“The next week is critical. Farmers need to asess how much silage they have and how long it will last, they need to stretch it out as much as possible.
“If you are running out you should put word out and ask around. There is no shame in asking for silage. I ran out a week ago,” he said.
He added that Teagasc is compiling a list of those with available fodder and those in need and Mr Rushe recommended contacting the IFA regional office in Wexford to query to be put in the right direction.
“The nuclear option is to sell stock and reduce demand, we have to look after the animals,” he added. “Unfortunately this is what people are facing.”
Agricultural Minister Michael Creed said there is no simple solution to the current shortages.
“This is a very difficult period for some famers around the country. Officials from my department, in conjunction with Teagasc and the Co-ops have been actively monitoring the availability of fodder supplies for purchase by farmers. I am also aware of challenges in the arable sector and have been in touch with Commissioner Hogan in this regard,” he said.
Minister Creed has directed departmental officials to examine the current Fodder Transport Support measure in order to ensure it adequately addresses all areas experiencing fodder shortages. This scheme provides support for transport of hay, silage and straw being transported over 100 kilometres.
The department will continue to operate its Early Warning System whereby emergency assistance may be provided to farmers whose animals are experiencing serious welfare issues and where the farmer him/herself is unable to cope.
The minister also announced an extension to the deadline for submission of Derogation plans by farmers which can now be submitted until 30 April.
Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South, Fiona O’Loughlin, has spoken out on the minister’s lack of action on tackling the fodder crisis.
“Despite warnings from my party and farm organisations as far back as September last year, the minister ignored farmers and failed to take any concrete action to address the situation,” she said.
“As the bad weather continued through the winter, it increased pressure on fodder stocks as animals were being kept indoors and feed was being used up. Now that the crisis has reached emergency levels, it was not acceptable for the minister to continue with his hands-off approach.”
She called for a fodder voucher scheme to be introduced so that farmers can receive financial help to afford to buy the fodder they need to get through the next few weeks
“Many simply don’t have the finances after an exceptionally long winter to meet the cost of buying in additional fodder,” she added.