A way to avert fod­der cri­sis for live­stock

The Irish Times - - Comment&letters -

Sir, – As an or­ganic farmer par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Glas scheme I re­ceive a small an­nual pay­ment for a par­cel of land deemed En­vi­ron­men­tally Man­aged Fal­low Land. This sum is paid to me by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, and I am very happy with it.

To avail of this pay­ment I have had to sow a cer­tain mix of grasses and keep all live­stock off it. I have to top the grass once a year, but not be­fore 1st Septem­ber. Af­ter top­ping, this heavy crop of cut grass is ex­pected to lie on the ground to rot. On no ac­count am I al­lowed to gather it up, most es­pe­cially in a case where it might be used as fod­der for an­i­mals this win­ter.

Given that many farm­ers are al­ready feed­ing their cat­tle pre­cious silage, saved for the com­ing win­ter, and dairy farm­ers are culling per­fectly good milk­ing cows, as they are un­able to feed them, I feel that there is some­thing rad­i­cally wrong with this dog-in-the-manger scheme.

I know it was de­vised sev­eral years ago – long be­fore we were faced with the harsh­est win­ter in mem­ory fol­lowed by this equally harsh drought – so there must be a way around it now.

I have writ­ten to our Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Michael Creed, ask­ing him to find a so­lu­tion whereby the grass on all the many hectares of En­vi­ron­men­tally Man­aged Fal­low Land around Ire­land could be har­vested and saved as a na­tional re­serve, and given to farm­ers in dire need at the cost of bal­ing and wrap­ping. That way, the farm­ers in the Glas scheme could not be ac­cused of mak­ing money twice off the same land.

We should re­mem­ber that ear­lier this year we were im­port­ing hay from Bri­tain due to our fod­der short­age, and bear in mind that this may not be a fu­ture pos­si­bil­ity af­ter Brexit at the end of March 2019.

As it is hol­i­day time, I do not ex­pect a re­ply from Min­is­ter Creed be­fore I cut my grass. In fact I doubt if he will ever even read my let­ter. But I am hop­ing that some­one will read this let­ter, pick up the idea and do some­thing about it. – Yours, etc,

ANNE STRAHAN, Co Tip­per­ary.

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