Emergency plans for importation of fodder weeks after Minister reportedly saying he didn’t believe there was a national fodder crisis

Shipments of thousands of tonnes of feed from abroad expected to commence from tomorrow.

ICSA meanwhile voices alarm over reports ‘co-ops and merchants tightening up on credit’ when many farmers vulnerable over feed shortage.

Sligo News File.

Weeks after he reportedly rejected claims farmers were facing a national fodder crisis, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is now rushing through plans for the importation of thousands of tonnes of animal feed from abroad.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture

Creed is said to have dismissed warnings of a growing fodder crisis as late as February.

He was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe there is a national fodder crisis. I believe there are pockets where there are issues, and we said we’d provide a transport subsidy and people have to be approved as having a need.”

Now, following a meeting with farming interests panic has apparently set in with Creed sanctioning the importation of thousands of tonnes of fodder from available sources in other countries. Shipments are expected to start arriving in the country from as early as tomorrow.

One co-op has announced that they will be offering the imported feed at cost.

Meanwhile, ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has voiced alarm over reports of “co-ops and merchants tightening up on credit at a time when many farmers are in a vulnerable position with fodder shortages.

Seamus Sherlock, Chairman ICSA Rural Development Committee

“The shortage of money is becoming just as big a problem as the shortage of fodder,” he said.

“Even where farmers are able to source fodder, being able to afford it is another matter.”

He said, “Farmers are now battling this winter seven months, and the stress and strain associated with this never-ending bad weather has taken its toll on man & beast. Most drystock farmers are at their wits end trying to hang on for better weather which would facilitate grass growth which in turn would allow stock back out onto grass. In the meantime, we need to see a bit of leeway so farmers can get out of this fodder crisis in one piece.

“Financial pressures can very easily manifest into mental health issues, and no one wants to see struggling farmers driven into impossible situations.”

Calling on Creed to speed up the balance of payments owed to farmers from the various schemes, he said, “At the very least farmers need to have what they are owed as a matter of urgency.

“Constant delays in payments only add to the frustration and make any sort of planning very difficult.”