Dairy­gold im­ports over 2,500t of fod­der

Irish Examiner - Farming - - FRONT PAGE - Stephen Cado­gan

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.

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