The fodder transport subsidy announced by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has been given a guarded welcome by two of the country's farm organisaion.
While the IFA and the ICSA welcomed the deal, both have raised concerns over what they see an an “inflexible” approach to the 100km rule to avail of the subsidy.
IFA president Joe Healy said the transport subsidy scheme will help to alleviate fodder problems, but more was needed.
He said IFA had made a strong case to the Minister since the problem of fodder shortages, particularly in the North West, emerged last Autumn.
Two meetings of the Fodder Action Group took place ahead of the IFA agm last week, at which the Minister committed to the introduction of a transport subsidy scheme.
On the 100km rule to avail of the subsidy of €12 for hay and silage, and €8 for straw, Mr Healy said this was too inflexible and will have to be re-visited, along with any other aspects that are impractical.
He said the scheme should have the minimum of bureaucracy as this was a busy time of the year on farms.
IFA Connacht regional chairman Padraic Joyce said the IFA believed a meal voucher system would have been the best and most efficient means of providing support, but in the absence of such a scheme, it was vital that the transport subsidy scheme was opened immediately as farmers are under extreme stress and are in dire need of feed for animals.
Meanwhile, ICSA welcomed the announcement, with rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock saying it will certainly be a relief for those with rapidly dwindling fodder supplies.
“The situation is particularly bad in many western and border counties and we need it in place quickly. We want to see co-ops and the Department work closely so that there are no more delays,” he said.
The association's president Patrick kent said they were awaiting clarification on the detail, but the priority must be for money to flow in to the scheme as soon as possible.
“Red tape must be minimised,” according to Mr Kent.
ICSA Sligo chairman Gabriel Gilmartin said: “There will have to be flexibility on the 100km rule to avail of funds. A common sense approach will have to be adopted.
He said he was disappointed that meal vouchers had not been included in the scheme, which would have been a better value solution than transporting fodder across the country.