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Friday 19 October 2018

Watch: Shannon Airport cuts hundreds of acres of grass to support farmers through fodder crisis

Local farmers cutting sileage at Shannon Airport's 400 acres today to alleviate the fodder crisis. Photograph by Eamon Ward.
Local farmers cutting sileage at Shannon Airport's 400 acres today to alleviate the fodder crisis. Photograph by Eamon Ward.
Shannon Airport has 400 acres of grass
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Shannon Airport today cut its grass early to help farmers with fodder shortages.

The harvesting of up to 1,000 silage bales began today at Shannon Airport in a fodder crisis intervention that IFA President Joe Healy described as a “godsend”.

Contractors rolled onto the 400 acre Shannon Airport site shortly after 10a.m. to begin three days of harvesting that will see in the region of 1,000 bales delivered to farmers across western counties in crisis due to fodder shortages arising from one of the hardest winters in living memory.

The first loads began to depart the airport on articulated lorries from midday to a number of regional locations for distribution, with some more locally based farmers arriving directly at the airport to collect bales for their own and neighbours’ animals.

The airport’s grass husbandry programme is not due to see any grass inside the airport perimeter cut until later in the summer, but in light of the shortages, the airport is offering to bring it forward to support local farmers.

Five years ago, in late April, farmers received 1,600 bales of silage from the airport in what was then the most severe fodder crisis in living memory.

Said Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney: “Farmers were in difficulty back then and, having seen just how important our intervention was, we have been watching the situation closely over the past few weeks and will be making the same offer to farmers’ representatives again when we meet them.

“We are a community airport and were delighted then to do what we could and the farmers were hugely appreciative. It was a critical intervention for many local farmers and so well received that other airports followed our lead and we hope they will do so again this time also,” he said.

The Operations Director said that the situation may not yet be as bad as 2013 but many farmers are in dire circumstances. 

“A lot could happen in a week if the weather improves and we get more growth but as of now, many farmers are experiencing major problems. We’ve seen a lot of fodder imported over the past week as a result, the introduction of emergency government supports and we are willing to play our part also”


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