Farmers demand Govt help in fodder crisis
THE Government must face up to the scale of the fodder crisis on livestock farms this winter, Irish Farmers Association president Tom Parlon declared yesterday.
And he called on the Coalition to alleviate the crisis facing thousands of farm families.
Mr Parlon was speaking after the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned that thousands of farm animals will die of hunger within the next two months unless the Government takes action.
There was a grave shortage of fodder on thousands of farms and many farmers had no money to buy feed at current inflated prices. ``Farmers whose winter fodder is running out fast are concerned about how they are going to buy feed for their animals,'' he added.
The severity of the fodder shortage would result in farmers having to spend an extra £110m on bought-in feed over the winter/spring period. It wasn't enough for the Government to tell farmers, whose incomes had collapsed, to wait for the farm assist scheme due later this year.
`MONEY TRAP FOR SOME'
``The fodder crisis is growing more urgent by the day: some farmers are trapped in a situation where they have no money to feed cattle but neither can they sell stock at disastrously low prices. There is virtually no market for these animals.
``IFA will not allow the Government and Minister to turn their backs on these farm families this winter. Farmers must be given help to buy feed and get their stock into a saleable condition.''
Last year was the wettest in some parts of the country for 32 years, he added. ``Hay and silage making was badly hit and animals had to be housed early, leading to the massive rise in feed bills.''
A Department of Agriculture spokesperson said Mr Walsh met an IFA delegation on Thursday evening and the fodder shortage was one of the issues discussed.
The Minister would be applying to the Department of Finance for further assistance to ease the fodder difficulties.
Also, £21m had been paid out to farmers in the weeks prior to Christmas to alleviate the problem: £12.5m for a fodder scheme, £6m for a mountain ewe destocking scheme and £2.7m for extra headage payments in disadvantaged areas.
Teagasc yesterday said no animal need die of starvation this winter. The right feeding could avert this or malnutrition, said director of operations Donal Carey.
United Farmers Association president Michael O'Callaghan said the national culling scheme for older cattle at £100 a head would relieve the fodder problem.