Minister Charlie McConalogue to unveil package worth €55m to tackle winter fodder crop concerns
Farmers will receive up to €1,000 each to grow silage this year as part of a multi-million euro package, which Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is expected to unveil today.
Minister McConalogue is to bring a memo to cabinet outlining a proposal that could be worth €55m as input costs soar and concerns grow that farmers, particularly drystock farmers, are struggling to finance next winter’s fodder crop.
Fertiliser has effectively quadrupled in cost for many farmers and increased grain prices will impact the cost of feed next winter.
It is understood that the package will reward farmers with a €100/ha payment for all silage cut up to 10ha, meaning farmers will be eligible to receive up to €1,000 each, with the payment to be made later in the year.
It comes after the minister launched a €12m Tillage Incentive Scheme in recent weeks to encourage farmers to grow tillage crops, as well as clover and multi-species swards, to help offset the country’s dependency on imported grains and artificial fertilisers.
However, it is expected that there will only be a five per cent increase in the amount of tillage crops sown this year.
Figures presented at the most recent National Fodder and Food Security Committee showed that 49pc of drystock farmers had yet to spread chemical nitrogen, leading to fears of a deficit in fodder supplies nationally in the housing period, and farm organisations have been calling for supports for the drystock sectors.
Minister McConalogue previously stated that he would seek to bring forward a package or support beef and sheep farmers who are most impacted by the rise in fertiliser prices, as well as protecting food security and staving off potential fodder shortages next winter.
IFA President Tim Cullinan wrote to the minister last week calling for immediate support to be provided to the suckler and beef sector as the effects of the inputs inflation crisis take hold.
In his letter to the minister, Mr Cullinan also said suckler and beef farmers do not have the financial capacity to absorb the extent of the increases in input prices.
ICSA Beef Chairman Ed Graham said the minister and the Government must face up to the fact that the beef, suckler and sheep sectors are much more vulnerable than the dairying sector, claiming that while the dairy sector is being buoyed by significant price rises, the same cannot be said for the drystock sector, which he said was facing a complete collapse in incomes.
Macra na Feirme said a support payment for fodder saving on every farm is needed to ensure there is adequate fodder in the country next winter.
It cited the Polish example of a flat rate payment per/ha as a good example of a support payment that can assist farmers.
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has learned that in the event Ireland has to introduce fuel rationing, consumers would be separated into four categories.
Tier one comprises essential workers, such as farmers and food producers. Those classified in tier four are motorists making non-essential journeys.
It is understood Minister McConalogue voiced strong objections to an initial plan that didn’t specifically mention farmers and insisted farmers and producers have full access to green diesel for food security.