Farmers have been warned to be on the alert for con artists attempting to use the fodder crisis as cover to defraud them.
Several online adverts have been placed in the past week on classifieds sites asking farmers to lodge money directly to bank accounts to secure delivery of much-needed fodder, while other farmers have been contacted directly offering fodder at suspiciously low prices.
Galway farmer Robert Lyons believes his 65-year-old mother was close to becoming a victim of one scam after she placed a wanted ad for forage.
"A man rang up saying he had two articulated lorries coming from Naas to Galway, with 20 spare bales left at €30/bale," said Mr Lyons.
However, when Mrs Lyons gave the man her son's phone number for directions, the stranger did not pursue it.
"It had to have been a fiddle," insisted Mr Lyons, warning other farmers to be wary.
CARMEL SUMS UP FARMER WOE
Carmel O'Connell from Co Limerick summed up the emotional and physical anguish being felt by farmers during the fodder crisis with her entry in the Irish Independent's Weekend magazine competition.
The competition is based on Ernest Hemingway's claim that a true writer could write a short story in just six words.
Carmel's heart-rending entry reads:
Last bale. Last straw. Last rites.
THROUGHPUT AT MARTS IS DOWN
Despite major fodder shortages and rising debt levels on farms, mart throughput in the first quarter of 2013 was down 9pc, according to ICOS mart figures.
ICOS mart executive Ray Doyle said farmers were almost 'paralysed' by the crisis in the early months of 2013, with farm-to-farm movements down 15pc.
He said farmers needed a Fodder Advice and Budgeting Service, based along the lines of the Money Advice and Budgeting Services (MABS) available for householders in severe debt.