Ahead of today's Tullamore Show, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first-Vice President of the European Parliament says that the fodder situation on many farms in the country is extremely serious and requires detailed and urgent attention.
The drought continues to impact on many livestock farms with severe shortages being experienced and stocks of winter feed already being utilised to feed animals.
Speaking ahead of the Tullamore Show, one of the biggest gatherings of farmers in the rural calendar, which takes place today, the MEP said it is clear that some counties are more deeply impacted than others.
She said:“I ‘m also very concerned about the impact this is having on farmers and their families. The extra financial costs of buying-in feed is serious, but so too is the level of stress and worry which farmers are having to deal with. Recent rainfall has helped somewhat but has not been sufficient to reduce drought conditions across all counties. The East and South of the country are particularly hard hit.”
She said a 25pc above normal recovery in grass growth rates will be required to make up the deficit in fodder supplies.
MEP McGuinness said:"Many farmers are hoping that this will happen but are also trying to plan for shortages today with no guarantee that conditions in the coming weeks will improve sufficiently.
She said:“Such is the nature of the drought that the situation is not uniform and weather patterns from last year mean some areas are experiencing a far deeper fodder shortage and are likely to take some considerable time and effort to redress,” she said.
The MEP said that the Teagasc helpline is an important lifeline for farmers seeking help and support.
She said:"I have received calls from women on farms who are deeply concerned about the financial circumstances they face in trying to buy-in extra feed and pay the normal household and education costs of the family.There is considerable mental health stress in farm households and it‘s important for people to talk about the pressures they are under and to seek help.”
The MEP said it is also important that flexibility is given to farmers who are part of TAMS and Beef Geonomics schemes and that urgent clarification is required from the Department of Agriculture on this issue.
McGuinness said that extra support is also needed for a group of farmers locked up with TB who face particular challenges and are unable to sell animals because of the disease situation on their farms.
She said that recent weather patterns are forcing farmers to ask questions about how to cope and what is a sustainable production system and a debate on this issue is necessary for the medium to long term future of farming.
However, coping with today’s problems is also needed and every effort has to be made to assist farmers in difficulty, she said.
If you have a story or want to send photos or videos to us please contact the KildareNow editorial team. via our Facebook, via our email at [email protected] or on 045 409350 during office hours.