Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 23 November 2017

IFA calls on Teagasc to establish fodder crisis 'task force'

Emma Ryan and Declan O'Brien

The IFA has called on Teagasc to urgently set up a task force to help farmers deal with the potentially serious fodder crisis that is emerging on many farms following the heavy rainfall over the past two months.

The deputy president of the farmer body, Eddie Downey, said that a shortage of fodder on farms was being exacerbated by increased costs for concentrate feeds. The surge in soya and grain prices on world markets has pushed average ration costs close to €300/t and some millers had warned of further increases this week.

"With meal prices continuing to spiral upwards, Teagasc must set up a task force immediately to help farmers formulate plans to address and deal cost effectively with the emerging fodder shortfall," Mr Downey said.

Meanwhile, the ICMSA has called for the Department of Agriculture to allow greater flexibility regarding the grazing rules for land in REPS 4.

Patrick Rohan of the ICMSA's farm services and environment committee said farmers said the severe impact of the recent weather on grass growth and the very tight availability of winter fodder supplies meant that some leeway was badly needed.

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"ICMSA is proposing that a REPS 4 farmer should be allowed to permit cattle from another farmer to graze his/her land provided there is no intermixing of livestock similar to the situation where land would be rented for conacre," Mr Rohan said.

"It is quite clear there would be no implications for animal health, the conditions of REPS could continue to be met and an arrangement could be reached that would suit both parties in particular for the farmer who is under pressure for grass. We'd ask the Minister to consider implementing this proposal as soon as possible," he added.

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In other news, the IFA has expressed its disappointment that the New Animal Health and Welfare Bill had passed through the Seanad with little or no recognition of the key concerns of farmers.

John Waters, chairman of the association's animal health committee, was eager to ensure that the bill did not impose any unnecessary costs on farmers or put the Irish agricultural sector at a competitive disadvantage.

Some of the proposals in the bill will require significant changes and clarification as they may impinge on standard farm practices such as dehorning, castration and tail docking.

Farmers strongly objected to the significant change in the proposed bill to remove the obligation on the Department to pay compensation under the current Disease of Animals Act where animals are compulsorily removed for disease or other purposes.

Mr Waters said he was concerned that the new proposals introduced in the bill could have serious consequences for farmers.

"It must be recognised in the Bill that farmers operate to the highest animal welfare standards and are already heavily regulated by the Department of Agriculture," he said.

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