The announcement by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed of a scheme to assist farmers hit by the drought has been welcomed by two of the country's main farm organisations.
ICSA tillage chairman Gavin Carberry welcomed the announcement last week by Minister Creed that an incentive scheme has been put in place to assist tillage farmers with the production of additional fodder.
“ICSA has been adamant over recent weeks that support measures for tillage farmers were urgently needed. It is encouraging that the Minister has listened to these calls, and is now putting some of those measures in place,” he said.
Under the initiative tillage farmers will receive €155/ha for additional ground sown to short term grasses and €100/ha for catch crops such as fodder rape, turnips etc, in excess of what was already committed to under GLAS. This will be payable on areas from 3-50 ha.
In addition, it will be permissible to sow Italian ryegrass.
While there will be no grant aid specifically for Italian ryegrass, farmers will be able to use it to bolster their own fodder supplies as well as selling it on as silage.
It was vital that the incentive is in place immediately with no red tape so that farmers can get the crops sown without delay, said Mr Carberry.
“It is right that the Minister is encouraging maximum production of home grown fodder. Tillage farmers can be part of the solution and it serves as a reminder that we should not put all our eggs in one basket when it comes to the agri-food strategy,” he said.
Mr Carberry said that, in the longer term, we needed to seriously examine how to reverse the decline in cereal growing in Ireland because we needed more home grown feed not less.
Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy said that the Minister’s announcement was welcome.
“Subject to seeing full detail of the scheme we would welcome this announcement from the Minister. Growing fodder crops on tillage ground has the potential to play a part in closing the national fodder deficit arising from drought.” he said.
IFA grain chairman Mark Browne also welcomed the scheme but warned that it must be kept simple. “We cannot afford to have any uncertainty or unnecessary bureaucracy around this scheme. These crops need to be sown urgently to take advantage of the recent rain” he said.