Following a meeting today with the CEO’s of the Dairy Co-ops, Minister Simon Coveney TD announced that co-ops have agreed to his request to substantially increase the volume of fodder being imported into the country over the short to medium term. The co-ops have also agreed to consider the introduction of interest free credit, within limits, to farmers for the purchase of fertiliser, limited to the month of May.
This will ensure farmers have access to fodder for the foreseeable future and will reassure farmers that fodder supply will not be an issue until grass growth improves. While access to fodder is a priority, grass growth in the months ahead will be the key to ensuring that this problem is overcome. The latest initiatives agreed by the dairy co-ops today build on the measures already introduced by the Minister which were designed to deal with immediate challenges;
· A €1m fund to contribute to the transport costs of importing fodder to the country, which will reduce the cost of purchasing fodder for farmers by approximately a third, in the days ahead.
· The availability of emergency assistance under the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council’s early warning system to ensure that there is no reason for any farmer to see their animals starve
· Processing of outstanding scheme payments as promptly as possible
“The meeting today copper-fastens a comprehensive package of measures to address the fodder shortage both immediate and longer term. The initiatives agreed with the co-ops today, combined with the €1 million Euro transport scheme that I announced yesterday and the emergency assistance available under the farm animals council early warning system will substantially address the challenging fodder situation. There is no reason why any animal on any farm should starve. Support is there for anyone who is facing an emergency situation and I would urge farmers who need support to contact the Department for assistance,” said Minister Coveney.
The Minister pointed out that he has already asked the advisory service to prioritise advice to farmers in the period ahead and to focus on the optimum use of fertiliser in generating feed for the national herd. With regard to ongoing difficulties in accessing credit, Minister Coveney will again meet with senior representatives from banks later today to discuss the ongoing challenges facing farmers and to ask for flexibility over the coming period in accessing credit. In addition, outstanding scheme payments are being processed with urgency. Seven hundred payments issued last week and outstanding payments are being processed as quickly as possible. “I believe this comprehensive set of measures will assist farmers. Strong commodity prices at present for dairy, beef and lamb should allow farmers to plan with greater confidence for the year ahead. I’ll continue to work with all stakeholders in the sector to get through this difficult period caused by very unusual weather patterns”.