'National system needed to halt fodder crises': FF

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron

Wayne O'Connor and Ralph Riegel

More fodder crises will hit farmers unless a system is established to monitor feed levels nationwide, Fianna Fáil warns.

Agriculture spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has called on Minister Michael Creed to establish a new system to help prevent a repeat of the crisis.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill has also called for the introduction of a low-cost loan mechanism to be put in place to help farmers clear debts.

They have criticised the Government's response to a crisis that has seen farmers in the north-west paying up to €60 per bale. Prices hardened from the €35 to €45 generally expected, because of the fodder shortage amid atrocious weather.

Mr McConalogue yesterday insisted further Government inaction could have long-term consequences for farmers.

"Growth has been very much behind because of the bad weather," he said.

"Farmers are under immense financial strain and we have animal welfare issues because of the fact fodder is very scarce in the country.

"We need to see a hardship scheme put in place for the farmers who are finding it hard to get by."

He also called for a meal voucher scheme to be introduced to make available fodder supplies stretch further.

A committee should also be established to ensure fodder supply issues can be addressed efficiently in future, he added.

"We need to see a system and a structure put in place through a standing committee to actually monitor fodder supplies in the country and ensure the Government is prepared to provide the leadership required to respond to a crisis if such a situation happens again."

It comes as farmers hope a promised spell of bright sunshine and warmer temperatures in the coming days will help them deal with the crisis.

They hope predicted temperatures of up to 18C will help land to dry out so they can consider moving animals outdoors after a long winter.

The entire country can hope for spring-like conditions with fine weather spreading in from this evening.

Met Éireann said the best of Ireland's weather will be from tomorrow to Saturday with temperatures reaching as high as 18C.

There will be sunny spells in a welcome respite from the driving rain, gales and cold weather of recent weeks.

Unfortunately, we will not be enjoying a mini-heatwave like parts of the UK, where temperatures are predicted to rise as high as 26C this week.

"Thursday will be a dry day with good sunshine and highs of 15C to 17C. It will be clear overnight but fog patches are likely," a spokesperson for the forecaster said.

"Early fog will clear on Friday then it will be dry for the day with good sunshine. Highs of 15C to 16C with cloud increasing over Connacht and Ulster later in the day.

"Saturday will be mostly dry and sunny with highs of 16C to 18C."

However, while Sunday will begin dry and warm, rain will gradually spread from western counties over the late afternoon and early evening, bringing a return to wetter and colder conditions.

Irish Independent