KERRY'S fodder crisis was eased this week by the importation of hay from the UK and elsewhere in a response to the emergency co-ordinated by the IFA and Kerry Group.
Fears that cattle would starve and farmers face bankruptcy due to the loss of herds and stringent feed overheads appear to have been alleviated since last week somewhat as subsidised hay was dropped off at places most in need across the county.
As of Wednesday, the IFA had imported 12 lorry-loads of hay from the UK to delivery points at Kenmare, Waterville, Cahersiveen, Dingle, Moyvane and Rathmore. They have also imported hay from Athy to Ballylongford, delivered on Sunday.
"The emergency response seems to be alleviating the crisis thankfully, between what we're bringing into the county and what Kerry Group are importing," Kerry IFA Farm Business Chairman James McCarthy said. The IFA have concentrated on the smaller drystock farmers, with Kerry Group responding to the crisis among its dairy suppliers, for the most part.
Sadly, Government red-tape is placing Kerry farmers at an unfair disadvantage to their counterparts in other parts of the country, the IFA believes. "It's an administrative nightmare getting the fodder into the country, however, as there is a form to be signed for each bale rather than each load of hay" Mr McCarthy added.
"We are wondering why the Department of Agriculture didn't give the subsidy on the whole load, and they could have given a bigger subsidy for the loads going farther, to Kerry for instance. We want to know how the Department of Agriculture came up with such a needlessly difficult process."
Deputy Michael Healy Rae reminded farmers this week they can also apply to the Department of Agriculture for an emergency cash grant of €1,000, if they can prove to inspectors it is required.
The Independent TD also succeeded in getting an assurance from Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney that more than the €1 million announced to subsidise hay would be made available for as long as the emergency feed is required.
The IFA has been calling for the subsidy scheme to be extended to cover private merchants and co-op marts also.
Mr McCarthy also said that the IFA is confident no foreign pests would be imported within the UK hay. "We wouldn't have any fears like that, the hay we imported is of the highest quality and sourced to the highest standards."
Sinn Féin County Councillor Robert Beasley has called on banks to free-up lines of credit for cash-strapped farmers, meanwhile.