The fodder difficulties facing some farmers are serious and a sympathetic response seems appropriate. However, some questions that may provoke unfounded charges of anti-farmer bias should be asked before the Government chequebook is waved about.
According to IFA figures the national dairy herd stands at something around 1.4m animals, 300,000 of which joined the herd since milk quotas ended in March 2015. That’s almost a 20% increase in three years and raises the question — is this an over-stocking problem or a fodder problem?
Has there, in the last three years, been a 20% increase in fodder production?
In addition, which other sectors so successfully turn to the Government for support when adverse weather hits their businesses? What actually would be achieved — a response to a near-annual fodder crisis or the perpetuation of a culture of dependency on taxpayer subsidy?
Most farmers would ask similar questions if the situation was reversed. They would be daft not to.