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Tuesday 23 October 2018

'Restrictive fodder scheme' the reason only 2 applications have been made say farm organisations

Farmers stocking up on fodder at the Drumshanbo Horse Fair, Co Leitrim. Photo Brian Farrell
Farmers stocking up on fodder at the Drumshanbo Horse Fair, Co Leitrim. Photo Brian Farrell
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farm organisations have renewed their call for a revised fodder scheme as just two applications have been received by the Department of Agriculture to the current scheme, according to latest figures.

A spokesperson from the Department told FarmIreland that just two completed applications for the fodder transport measure have been received in Department Offices in Portlaoise.

“This is not unexpected as farmers may be holding off submitting application forms until they receive the required amount of fodder thereby only submitting one declaration form from the Co-operative."

This comes as farm organisations have called for a revised fodder subsidy scheme in the aftermath of Storm Emma and in particular that the scheme includes meal vouchers.

Pat McCormack, President of the ICMSA said the lack of applications highlights the restrictive nature of the scheme as a result of the 100km limit for transporting fodder.

“The reality is that the restrictive nature of the scheme introduced has meant that it is not suitable or usable for the vast majority of farmers and, specifically, the 100km limit is a very obvious and unworkable stipulation - most farmers would source fodder well within this limit and therefore are being forced to pay the transport cost themselves. 

“The recent bad weather has heightened concerns in relation to fodder right around the country and ICMSA believes that the scheme should be reviewed to take account of the up-to-date position with a focus, as well, on the very obvious reasons why the take-up of the scheme has been so low," he said.

ICSA Sligo Chairman Gabriel Gilmartin said that as a result of the treacherous weather conditions the availability of fodder for transport to the north-west was likely to dry up.

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He said those in the south would want to keep fodder as security and it will put more pressure on stricken communities.

Mr Gilmartin is more adamant than ever that a meal voucher scheme is introduced.

“Farmers with surplus fodder will be less willing to sell fodder.

“We were getting fodder from farmers in Wexford, Kildare and Tipperary but these are some of the counties that were worst hit by the weather.

There’s snow forecast in Sligo for the end of the week. This will only add pressure,” said Mr Gilmartin.

“There’s too much bureaucracy and red tape, particularly for the guys selling the fodder, attached to the current scheme.”

IFA President Joe Healy has also called on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to rethink the “inadequate response” as it was clear the current scheme was not working and meal vouchers should be reconsidered.

INHFA President Colm O’ Donnell also voiced his concern that counties with surplus fodder affected by Storm Emma will put pressure on fodder reserves countrywide.

“It needs to be scrapped and a meal voucher needs to be introduced,” he said.

Fianna Fail’s Charlie McConalogue also called for the fodder scheme to be revised and to “expand that scheme to include meal vouchers and other payments.”

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