Dairygold imports over 2,500t of fodder
Dairygold Co-op has organised imports of over 2,500 tonnes of haylage and hay from the UK, with the first loads due in Ireland today. The co-op says the imported fodder is essential to alleviate shortages for farmers struggling through a long winter and unseasonably cold and wet spring which has significantly delayed grass growth. Additional shipments are due through the weekend and into next week.
The fodder will be distributed to Dairygold’s farmers via their branch network across Munster. Members with fodder difficulties should contact their Dairygold area sales manager or milk adviser, so that fodder distribution can be effectively co-ordinated to support those in most need.
The co-op says the cost of the fodder to members is the cost price at source in the UK. Dairygold had already been working with members sourcing fodder in Ireland, but found it was no longer possible to source adequate supplies within Ireland. The situation became more acute over the Easter weekend. Dairygold chairman John O’Gorman said: “There has been a definite tightening of fodder stocks, especially in the last week. The heavy rain across the country over the Easter weekend compounded an already bad situation on the ground for dairy farmers following one of the worst winters on record. “Instead of having animals out at grass, our members are still dealing with housed animals and all the feeding requirements that involves.” “We have no doubt that this imported fodder is essential. Unfortunately, ground temperatures and grass growth remain well below normal for this time of year so, at this point in time, it’s difficult to know when dairy farmers will be in a position to return to grazing. This period between the calving and the breeding season is a critical time for animal health and nutrition.” “This is a very costly operation, and we will be making this point to the Department [of Agriculture] and recommending that it initiates its haulage support programme that worked so well to assist the industry during the last fodder crisis in 2013.”
The Irish dairy sector last experienced a fodder crisis in 2013, when Dairygold imported over 10,000 tonnes of fodder from the UK and France to alleviate a critical shortage on members’ farms. Representing co-ops, ICOS President Martin Keane said a number of co-ops are sourcing imports of fodder from abroad. He said the weather of the next seven to ten days will be critical. If it does not improve, the situation will be very serious, he warned. Lakeland Dairies will buy any fodder surpluses from farmers for redistribution in its area in the northwest. Or farmers with silage to sell can ring Teagasc, which will proApril vide a list of sellers to farmers seeking forage.
IFA president Joe Healy yesterday asked Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to introduce a meal voucher system; a subsidy for importing fodder; bank support for struggling farmers; and early introduction of the low-cost loan package committed to in the Budget.
He also asked for suspension of all farm inspections and Bord Bia audits; all outstanding Department scheme payments to be made urgently to farmers; a derogation on the three-crop rule; and flexibility on GLAS specifications.
John O’Gorman, Dairygold: imported fodder is essential.