By Joe Dermody
Vital drought responses include incentives for the growth of catch crops, flexibility on GLAS and nitrates restrictions and aid with importing fodder from the continent, says ICOS CEO TJ Flanagan.
Mr Flanagan said farmers, particularly dairy farmers, are currently in the midst of an unprecedented drought, with an escalating gap between fodder stored and predicted winter demand.
“Unless measures are implemented without delay to support the sourcing of supplementary fodder, the gap won’t be bridged, and we will be facing an even more difficult situation than experienced in the spring,” Mr Flanagan said.
He said co-ops have sourced concentrates, extended credit, given rebates on purchases, hosted workshops, and acted as intermediaries to source fodder locally.
“It’s now high time that the other stakeholders, including the banks and the department, stepped up, to help alleviate the situation,” he said.
“No individual measure will bridge the gap on fodder requirements, but the minister should immediately announce a series of measures.
“These would include incentives for the growth of catch crops, flexibility for farmers bound by GLAS and nitrates restrictions, and a comprehensive support for the importation of supplementary fodder from the continent.”
Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy said that up to 100,000 ha of additional land could be brought into fodder production by granting flexibilities for catch crops, fallow land and low input grassland under GLAS.
“While the derogation for the production of animal feed on fallow land is also welcome, important flexibilities are required under the GLAS scheme which would be of much greater assistance.
“As a matter of urgency, Minister Creed must now clarify what exact measures he has sought and is seeking from Brussels.”