Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed yesterday (Wednesday) announced details of the fodder transport scheme following increasing pressure from farm organisations nationwide.
The transport subsidy will work out at €12 per bale of silage or hay and €8 per bale of straw and only applies if a farmer is hauling bales over 100km. Farmers will also be required to produce a receipt from the haulage company for the transport cost.
Roscommon IFA Chairperson John Hanley believes a more prudent approach would have been a meal voucher scheme.
“Look, we have a situation for example where farmers up in Dublin have excess fodder and farmers from the west and northwest are transporting it at a high cost. You could have a lorry with let’s say 60 bales of hay or a lorry with 30 tonnes of grain. You’d get an awful lot more out of the 30 tonnes of grain.
“We’ve said that the meal voucher system would have been the best and most efficient solution and it was one thing we had been pushing for. It would have made more sense,” said Mr. Hanley.
The county chairman also commented on the problem of farmers in fodder deprived areas paying over the odds for bales from farmers with excess.
“I don’t like to see it but of course but in a market situation with supply and demand, you’ll always have that”.
Paddy Kelly is a 75-years-old who has been farming all his life. 13 years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. Not that you could tell by the energy he exudes when discussing the challenges facing farmers this winter.
The Castlerea beef farmer owns over 140 acres and 55 sucklers. The fodder crisis took him by surprise last autumn but it’s the smaller farmers he feels sympathy for.
“When you see a bale of silage or hay being sold for €40, then that tells you there’s a crisis,” he told the Roscommon People on Tuesday.
“It seems it’s (harsh weather) a worldwide thing but the west and northwest has seen the worst of it in this country.
“The whole problem began when May and June were too dry and there was a very poor return on the first cut of silage. Then July was extra wet and there was no real chance to harvest a second cut properly. It was cut it today, grab it tomorrow and that meant no chance to wilt the silage. It was very poor quality.
“The silage didn’t ferment properly and as I said, it became cut and grab because there were never two fine days together. Farmers in my locality failed to get the second cut because the land had become too wet.
“The cattle went in in the first week in September and that puts you in for a seven-month winter. I usually house cattle around the 10th of November,” he said.
Paddy, who has seven children with his wife Josephine, gets help on a part-time basis from son Greg, who is a teacher nearby. Paddy’s in a better position than most small farmers and he understands this.
“This isn’t a case of farmers playing the poor mouth, these are just facts. We’re not looking for handouts but it’s costing €600 to €700 in transport costs for farmers to bring home bales from different parts of the country. Minister Creed has said he will provide transport subsidies. This would tide farmers over for six weeks and get them through the winter,” he concluded.