Farm bodies, firms give €3m in extra fodder aid

The Irish Dairy Board, IFA, and agri-businesses launched more than €3m of extra fodder aid for farmers this week.

IFA have purchased 3,000 tonnes of high quality hay in France. But nutritionist Hugh Kerr of Keenan, which is offering free advice and help to farmers, said that will be used up quickly.

Warning of unprecedented crisis, exceptional hardship, and a disastrous situation facing farmers, Irish Dairy Board CEO Kevin Lane announced a €2m emergency fund for dairy farmers, through IDB supplier co-op members.

The IFA has launched a fodder crisis fund of €1m from its own resources, matched with generous contributions from the Irish Farmers Journal, IFAC Accountants, IFFPG, Origin Enterprises plc and FBD Insurance.

IFA President John Bryan said, “Farm families are making major personal and financial sacrifices to ensure that their livestock are fed.” He said the fund is a transport subsidy to marts and private merchants who are importing forage, but who have no access to the Government’s transport subsidy operated through dairy co-ops only.

For forage imported from the UK by marts and merchants, a transport subsidy of €500 per load will be provided, with €750 where travel exceeds 250km from the port.

The hay is to be distributed this week to farmers at ex-port cost. Marts or merchants wishing to avail of the transport subsidy must pre-clear support through IFA. It will be in place until mid-May, when it will be reviewed.

Mr Bryan said, “A bank account had been set up in AIB, Naas Road (04408444, Sort Code 93-36-27). Any other agri-businesses that wish to assist the effort are more than welcome to contribute and their support will be acknowledged”.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has extended the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme for one week, to Friday, May 10, and included maize silage, up to 6,000 tons of which are being sourced. He said over 300 loads of fodder have been imported and distributed, including over 3,500 tons of hay.

He said grass growing conditions remain sub-normal, and farmers in parts of the country were finding it difficult to locate enough forage.

Where animal welfare is seriously at risk, farmers can call the 1850 211990 emergency helpline. These calls are referred to co-ops for access to feed, or the department’s veterinary personnel, as appropriate.

The Keenan nutrition and diet mixing company offers free feed advice at 059-91013424 to all farmers, and 70 of their farmer customers have offered to help mix forage extender diets for neighbours in need.

Dairygold Co-op advised farmers to fertilise grassland and close ground for silage as quickly as possible. Agri Business Technical Manager Scott Lovell warned that fodder shortage consequences may be felt into 2014.

He said a burst of grass growth could also present challenges; farmers should budget their grass and avoid sudden major dairy cow diet changes.

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