As farmers across the county waited with baited breath for the arrival to Longford of a consignment of haylagelage from England last Friday, local fodder supplies continued to runout.
In fact so dire has the situation become for local farmers, IFA has indicated that some have no fodder left at all, while others have enough feed supplies to last for the next week, at most. “The fodder situation has become very bad over the past week in particular,” Chairman, Longford IFA Andrew McHugh said. “It has become very difficult for some farmers, while others just about have enough fodder left for the next seven days or so. Farmers are under a lot of strain.”
Following a meeting last week, with the CEO’s of the Co-ops, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD announced that they had agreed to increase the volume of fodder being imported into the country, while the Department offered a subsidy for imported haylage. This means that consignments of haylage have been arriving in Ireland from the UK over the past week and Lakeland Dairies expects that a lorry load will be in Longford and Cavan in the coming days. “There is haylage on its way to counties Longford and Cavan as we speak,” Mr McHugh continued. The subsidy announced by the Minister will help farmers - it will be paid to the co-ops and they in turn will take it from farmers’ bills.”
Mr McHugh went on to say that mills were currently working at maximum capacity to try and cope with the demands on feed, but he also pointed out that while cattle feed should be used in tandem with grass - there was very little grass growth for this time of year. “The mills are working flat out putting out 5,000 tonnes a week,” he added. “You always need a certain amount of fodder with grass, but grass growth rate is very slow for this time of the year, and this is a real problem. If we could get five or six warm days, the grass would grow. If we can get haylage in, the animals will survive.”
€1m has been provided by the Department to the transport costs of importing fodder into Ireland, while emergency assistance will be provided under the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council’s early warning system, and outstanding scheme payments will be processed as promptly as possible in an effort to reduce additional hardship for farmers in the current climate.
“Some farmers are very worried about their circumstances at the moment and there is no doubt that the condition of animals is poor, but prices are good, and if it gets a little warmer, things will pick up and we will be alright again,” Mr McHugh continued. “It is important now, that people talk to each other and that neighbours and friends check in one another regularly.”