The Minister for Agriculture's refusal to instigate a fodder aid scheme has been described as "most disappointing" by a local Fianna Fáil TD.
In a parliamentary question, Deputy Brendan Smith asked Minister Michael Creed if he would give further consideration to the introduction of a fodder aid scheme following the Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion on the issue and "the difficulties facing farmers".
In his response, Minister Creed refused to address the fodder aid scheme proposal, which Fianna Fáil were seeking to offset transportation costs, and instead outlined the actions he was implementing.
Increased demand for fodder has seen the price of round bales increase generally, though prices available vary hugely.
On popular a buy and sell website yesterday, one Killarney farmer had 170 silage bales - some first cut, most second cut - at €30/bale
with transport costs on top of that.
A Newtownards farmer in County Down is offering "first second and third cut 2015 season" at £27. Meanwhile a Murrintow farmer in Wexford selling 60 "good solid bales", and a Nobber farmer in Meath, are both selling at €25.
The IFA has tried to help by twinning members in struggling counties with counterparts in the east and south. Cavan is twinned with Kilkenny as a donor county; Monaghan with Meath; Leitrim with Wexford and Longford with Kildare.
Replying to Deputy Smith, the minister instead focussed on his approach, noting the European Commission had agreed to his request for an advance payment of the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme, resulting in an increase from 50% to 70% in the rate for the BPS to those applicants whose applications were confirmed fully clear and 85% payment of GLAS and over €1.2 billion in payments issued to farmers "over recent weeks", significantly improving cash flow for qualifying farmers.
Minister Creed also noted that he had convened a fodder group, comprised of feed merchants and co-ops, banking, farm bodies, and chaired by Teagasc.
“Teagasc will begin a survey of fodder availability in the east and south of the country to ascertain what supplies are still available for purchase, across the country.
“Exploring these avenues means my Department will be fully informed of the situation on the ground and the best possible advice will be provided to farmers re their options which may include sourcing alternative feed, reducing non breeding stock numbers and ensuring they carry out a fodder budget.
"I will continue to actively monitor the situation in the impacted areas over the coming period."
Deputy Smith, a former agriculture minister, labelled Minister Creed's response for their appeal for a fodder aid scheme as "most disappointing".
"Many farmers are facing
a very difficult and worrying time as their fodder supplies run out. The least that
could be done would be to meet the costs in transporting fodder from the South and also provide help towards
the purchase of other feedstuff.
"This is an issue that needs urgent attention and to date the Government have failed to listen to the genuine concerns outlined by farmers in this region,” Deputy Brendan Smith told The Anglo-Celt.