Ir­ish fod­der aid scheme could have knock-on ef­fect in Wales

Western Mail - - COUNTRY & FARMING -

The Farm­ers’ Union of Wales says Ir­ish fod­der aid schemes high­light and add to con­cerns in Wales over the im­pact months of wet weather are hav­ing on fod­der sup­plies and prices.

Di­min­ish­ing fod­der sup­plies in the Repub­lic of Ire­land led the Ir­ish Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce a fod­der trans­port sub­sidy scheme in Jan­uary, with pay­ments of be­tween €3-€17 per bale trans­ported, de­pend­ing on size.

Mean­while, dairy pro­ces­sors in the repub­lic, who were pre­vi­ously sourc­ing fod­der on the do­mes­tic Ir­ish mar­ket on be­half of their milk sup­pli­ers, have switched to sourc­ing from main­land UK, with the first Dairy­gold-sub­sidised ship­ment to­talling 2,500 tonnes hav­ing ar­rived at Ross­lare port ear­lier this month.

Back in 2013, an Ir­ish fod­der cri­sis re­sulted in the im­por­ta­tion of some 10,000 tonnes of fod­der into the repub­lic, which mainly came from the UK.

Dai Miles, chair­man of the FUW’s Milk and Dairy Com­mit­tee, said: “Per­sis­tent wet weather has left many fields in Wales com­pletely sat­u­rated for months and grass growth re­mains ex­tremely poor across the coun­try.

“Many of our mem­bers are un­able to turn cat­tle out on to the land and this means an in­creas­ing reliance on di­min­ish­ing fod­der sup­plies as cat­tle re­main housed.

“We alerted the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to con­cerns about the im­pact of fod­der short­ages many weeks ago, and re­ports of acute prob­lems in some re­gions are in­creas­ing.

“The FUW would ad­vise mem­bers to think ahead and to speak to their FUW county of­fice if they have or an­tic­i­pate prob­lems in the com­ing days or weeks.”

Mr Miles said that the re­moval of fod­der from the UK mar­ket through the Ir­ish schemes would add to ex­ist­ing pres­sures on the UK mar­ket.

He said: “We fully sym­pa­thise with Ir­ish farm­ers re­gard­ing the pres­sures they are under, but with prices al­ready ex­tremely high in the UK and pres­sures mount­ing in parts of Wales, the im­pact of the Ir­ish schemes for our mem­bers is nat­u­rally a con­cern.

“Above all else, farm­ers in Wales need to see a dra­matic im­prove­ment in the weather. Oth­er­wise, we will have to ur­gently con­sider schemes sim­i­lar to those op­er­at­ing in the Repub­lic of Ire­land,” added Mr Miles.

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