Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 25 November 2017

Teagasc expects fodder crisis to cost farmers in region of €450m

11/07/2013. News. Pictured on John Flynn,s farm, Fenor, Co. Waterford. Because of lack of rain, fields are becoming bare and he has to use sileage to feed the aminals and a cow here is losing weight, you can see its ribs. Picture: Patrick Browne
11/07/2013. News. Pictured on John Flynn,s farm, Fenor, Co. Waterford. Because of lack of rain, fields are becoming bare and he has to use sileage to feed the aminals and a cow here is losing weight, you can see its ribs. Picture: Patrick Browne
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

The 2012/2013 fodder crisis cost farmers at least €450m and may cost much more when long-term productivity losses are taken into account, Teagasc research has found.

Massive increases in concentrate feed use and the importation of hay and silage from abroad cost farmers €390m, according to Thia Hennessey of Teagasc's economic research department.

Concentrate feed use on dairy farms increased by 53pc in the two-year period between 2011 and 2013, rising from €160/hd to an estimated €360/hd.

Concentrate feed use rose by 71pc on beef farms during the same period, from €80/hd to an estimated €190/hd.

The crisis also cost €64m in output losses from farms. Milk output fell by 3-4pc in 2012 as a result of poor weather, costing dairy farmers €47m in reduced milk deliveries, or €27m in lost profit.

Losses in the beef and sheep sector were more difficult to quantify as farmers chose to slaughter animals earlier than usual. However, the deaths of 23,000 animals due to the fodder shortage nationwide amounted to a loss of €17m, Ms Hennessey told the conference.

WARNED

The Teagasc expert warned that the €450m may not be the final tally for the fodder crisis.

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"Longer term costs are difficult to quantify, such as reduced fertility in dairy cows and other productivity losses," she said.

Strong output prices for milk have wiped out some of the fodder crisis costs, although sheep and beef farmers were not as insulated, according to Ms Hennessey.

Dairygold chief executive Jim Woulfe, at a local area meeting in Co Tipperary last week, backed up her remarks. Mr Woulfe told milk suppliers in Cahir that at the peak of the fodder crisis last May, the co-op had extended €82m in credit to farmers, €22m more than normal for the time of year.

However, strong milk prices had brought the credit bill "back to normal levels" by the end of November. In fact, farmer bills outstanding with the co-op are currently €2m lower than the same period in 2012, when €40m was owed.

However the ICSA warned that farmers would still be paying the price for the fodder crisis well into 2014.

"The extra €200m spent by drystock farmers on meal is a catastrophic extra cost given the low margins for cattle farmers," said ICSA beef chairman Edmond Phelan. "It will be several years before the losses will be recuperated."

Irish Independent