First shipments of imported fodder arrive in Ireland amid 'calamitous' shortages

Farmers' associations have said they warned of a potential fodder crisis months ago

First shipments of imported fodder arrive in Ireland amid 'calamitous' shortages

Image: Dairygold Co-Op via Twitter

Updated 11.30am

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says the Government was warned as far back as last July that there would be a fodder shortage.

Poor weather conditions during the winter months has resulted in livestock remaining indoors for long periods of time - putting huge pressure on farmers to keep the animals fed.

Continuing cold and wet weather has led to further uncertainty on farms across the country, as farmers struggle with dwindling supplies.

Imports of animal feed have started arriving in Ireland to help deal with the crisis.

Dairygold confirmed its first batch of hay and haylage landed in Rosslare this morning, with imports for Glanbia and other co-ops set to arrive over the coming days.

The animal feed will be sold at cost price to members of the co-op.

Liam O'Flaherty, Dairygold's head of agri business, explained: "We have 10 locations set up across our catchment area - loads will be coming up right across today, tomorrow and into the weekend.

"Farmers will come into the branches and collect the haylage and hay."

Support scheme

Yesterday, the Government announced officials will develop a scheme to support fodder imports.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said: “As fodder supplies are now tightening across the country, it is important that these are managed proactively.

"We will unfortunately have to import fodder again as occurred in 2013 to supplement existing supplies as the prolonged bad weather conditions continue." 

'The mess we're in'

IFA President Joe Healy, however, suggested the Government's measures are 'too little, too late'.

He said: "Obviously it's a help, and I welcome that - but we had asked for a meal voucher scheme to be put in place with the fodder that we already had in this country as far back as last December.

"Unfortunately, that wasn't done - and that's how we end up with the mess we're in at the moment."

He added: "We have [also] called for all outstanding payments to be paid out to farmers.

"While some of them might be small payments, every €250-300 is a tonne of meal, or 10 or 12 bails of silage... that's a lot to farmers at the moment."

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) has suggested it is "calamitous that we have got to this point when all the signals pointing to a fodder crisis were evident months ago".

It comes as Met Éireann forecasts heavy rain for southern counties from later this evening - meaning farmers will likely again be forced to keep animals indoors.