Farmers warning against red tape for fodder subsidy
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.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed confirmed monies would be made available to offset the long-distance haulage of hay, straw or silage over 100km from areas with plentiful supplies to "specific localised pockets" hard-hit by bad weather.
However, Mr Creed said he was keen not to interfere with the "active local fodder market" in the western counties.
"But there are specific localised pockets where there is a real problem," he said as he launched a climate change report for the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, adding application forms for the subsidy will be available from the department later this week.
The transport payment will range from €8 for standard hay or straw bale to €12 for silage or haylage for feeding.
A study by State agency Teagasc found 90pc of farmers in the north-west are facing serious fodder shortages this winter. Farmers generally had 35pc less feed than they needed for their herds.
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.
Irish Farmers' Association president Joe Healy welcomed the subsidy but described the 100km rule to avail of the subsidy for transport as "too inflexible", with some aspects just impractical. He called for a minimum level of bureaucracy during a busy time of the year on farms.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association's Pat McCormack called for the terms and conditions to be made as simple as possible. He said the 100km distance limit looked "arbitrary" and it may have to be re-examined.
Fianna Fáil's agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue warned that the transport subsidy could actually lead to an acceleration in prices as demand for fodder increases.
Mr Creed said the bad weather had affected the ability to conserve fodder stocks for the winter and livestock swiftly ate into supplies as they had to be housed much earlier due to poor ground conditions in the west.
He said farmers were facing "significant additional costs" where fodder has to be transported over long distances.
Farmers at risk of running significantly short of feed stocks, who have completed a fodder budgeting exercise with their agriculture advisers, will be eligible for the subsidy.