Farming

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Farm feed crisis has intensified

The ongoing fodder crisis and increased financial pressure is taking its toll on farmers, the ICSA and IFA have warned.

While grass growth has improved throughout the country, fodder supplies remain critical on many holdings and feed bills are continuing to mount.

Adverts have begun to appear in southern newspapers for silage at €60/bale.

At a Teagasc fodder crisis meeting in Dunmanway, west Cork last week, a donation of 20 bales of silage was divided between four farmers who had no silage on their farms.

Local adviser Eugene Hayes said that farmers were mentally on their knees.

"Most dairy farmers around here have resorted to feeding straw to milking cows. But €60/bale is pure extortion," he said.

"The lads who are asking €60/bale should be ashamed of themselves," said ICSA suckler chairman Diarmuid Kelleher. "That's absolutely wrong, it's abuse."

The ICSA called on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to set up a national emergency taskforce to include farm representatives, co-ops and agri-merchants, banking representatives and Teagasc.

The IFA has urged credit suppliers not to leave any farmer short of cashflow to feed their stock.

They have also called for a suspension to farm inspections and appealed to tillage farmers with straw to make it available to needy farmers over the next number of days until grass arrives.

HIDDEN

ICMSA dairy committee member Julian O'Keeffe said that the slow-burn nature of the crisis had hidden its severity.

"If this had happened over the course of one week, a crisis fund would have been set up by now," he said.

ICSA leader Diarmuid Kelleher warned that farmers were under so much strain that he was fearful some could be pushed over the edge.

"I've seen what I would consider a fantastic farmer crying in his house in the past week," he said.

"I'm so afraid that some fellows could be pushed over the edge in the next two weeks and they won't be around to tell the tale. Yes, things are starting to turn but you can't bring a fellow out of a box in month's time," Mr Kelleher said.

He urged farmers under extreme stress to talk to someone.

The HSE's Farm and Rural Stress Helpline is 1800 742 645.

Irish Independent