'Farmers are going hungry to feed their animals'
It has been claimed that some farmers are going hungry themselves to feed their stock as difficult weather conditions since the autumn impacted fodder supplies in many parts of the country.
The scramble for fodder has resulted in keen competition for supplies, and the price of good quality fodder hit record prices in the west.
Sligo-Leitrim TD Eamon Scanlon has said over the past three weeks, he has received numerous calls from farmers in Sligo-Leitrim, north Roscommon and south Donegal who are suffering severe hardship as they try to provide fodder for their stock.
“The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed, brought in a scheme to subsidise hay and silage but the hay went up by €8 per bale and the silage by €12 so it was no benefit to farmers at all.
“It is a health issue for many people and I am calling for farmers to be front-loaded by €1,000 to help them to survive and to feed their families and their stock over the next month.
“Farmers in the part of the country I come from have been feeding their cattle in these conditions for the past eight months.
“They will get the money anyway but it would make a lot of difference if they got it now.
“Some farmers are going hungry to feed their animals,” he said.
Responding to the comments, Former Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said there is enough fodder in Ireland.
“It is about moving it around and getting it to the farms which need it and that is why transport costs were the focus.
“If farmers are in extreme circumstances and there are animal welfare consequences of a lack of availability of fodder, they should contact the Department directly.
“They will get direct help immediately for animal welfare issues linked to fodder,” he said.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said delayed turn-out of some stock is increasing the demand for fodder and accommodation.
"In this regard it should be noted that the targeted, localised scheme to provide a subsidy for long distance transport of fodder is open and available to farmers affected by fodder shortages in the West and North West of the country.
"Throughout this period and immediately afterwards Department staff together with Teagasc worked at local level to ensure that the farming community had access to the best advice on how to cope with the numerous issues thrown up by the storm.
"To support those in more immediate difficulties the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine emergency phone line for animal welfare issues remained open and attended at all times. All requests for support were responded to," he said.