'Animals are losing weight': The fodder crisis is now turning into an animal welfare crisis says Sligo Cllr
The fodder crisis is now turning into an animal welfare crisis. That's according to Silgo Councillor Jerry Lundy who said farmers were telling him their animals were losing weight.
He told the Silgo Champion that less than half the farmers have the fodder they need.
"This is not sustainable," he said, asking the Council to urge the Minister for Agriculture to provide financial supports to help farmers buy feed for livestock.
"The Government is turning its back on the rural areas. It's time for a Minister for Agriculture from the West," he told members.
Prices for fodder have also surged in some cases as farmers in the north-west reported being charged up to €50 or double the usual price for a round bale of silage.
The weather has also added to pressures on farmers with parts of the country under water, Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke said rainfall in recent weeks hit three times the normal level in the worst impacted areas.
Hardest hit were north Munster, parts of the midlands and east Connacht suffered the worst.
Rainfall levels recorded at Gurteen were 316pc ahead of the normal readings for the time of year, with 68mm over the past week.
Farmers have warned they must not be caught up in red tape as they avail of the new transport subsidy for fodder-stricken areas in the west and north-west.
Meanwhile, Farm organisations are calling for a "more workable" and less restrictive scheme.
The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) protested outside the Department of Agriculture office in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim yesterday calling for a more practical fodder scheme that would include a meal voucher and that the 100km zone to source fodder outside the region should be changed.
Speaking at the protest, INHFA president Colm O' Donnell called for the Fodder Action Group to reconvene.
"This package was not what was proposed by the stakeholders' action group. Minister Creed must now call those stakeholders back to adjust elements of the package to make it workable for affected farmers."
Following a meeting with Teagasc officials in Longford on Friday, the ICSA is urging farmers to complete a Forage Budget form through their local Teagasc office or FAS-approved advisor in order for the scheme to be fully activated in all affected counties.
The ICSA claimed farmers who wish to access the scheme can only do so if enough of their county neighbours also expressed an urgent need for fodder supplies.
ICSA Sligo chairman Gabriel Gilmartin said: "The Department needs to reconsider the overly restrictive parameters of the scheme and open it up to any farmer who needs fodder."
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed told the Farming Independent that the fodder scheme is nationally available and that he doesn't believe there is a national fodder crisis.
"It's nationally available. I don't believe there is a national fodder crisis. I believe there are pockets where there are issues and we said we'd provide a transport subsidy and people have to be approved as having a need," he said.