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Supporting farmers through this difficult period

Supporting farmers through this difficult period

Following a difficult spring and no immediate respite from the weather challenges being faced at farm level, Teagasc has moved to introduce a number of measures to support farmers.

Today, Monday, April 8, Teagasc Director of Knowledge Transfer, Dr Stan Lalor announced two additional initiatives that have been put in place today by Teagasc to provide further support to farmers.

Fodder register

Firstly, a Fodder Register is being put in place to help connect farmers who have fodder available with those farmers that require it. A Fodder Register will be set up in each Teagasc region, where farmers can contact the local Teagasc Advisory office to register as having feed available, or to enquire if there are farmers on the register from whom they might source feed. 

The Fodder Register is being set up on foot of a request from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, for Teagasc to establish a system for co-ordinating advisory supports to help farmers maximise existing fodder stocks and provide a basis for those with surpluses to engage with those who are struggling. 

Despite the persisting wet weather across the country, fodder continues to be available nationally. However, some farms are short due to regional variation in rainfall levels and the difficulty in getting livestock out to grass. The fodder register will help connect farmers locally to allow neighbouring farmers support each other. The register is open to all farmers. 

A full list of Teagasc offices with phone numbers is available here

Teagasc helplines available to farmers 

Teagasc has also set up two helpline numbers to provide advice to farmers in how to manage their farms through this difficult weather period. The helplines will be open initially for a two week period up to Saturday, April 20, operating Monday to Saturday, 9am to 9pm. A voicemail can be left outside of these hours to request a call back. 

The helpline numbers are as follows:

  • Teagasc National Crops Helpline - 059 918 3533
  • Teagasc National Grassland helpline - 059 918 3155

Teagasc advisors and specialists, led by Pearse Kelly and Michael Hennessy, will be available to provide advice over to phone to assist farmers in making the best decisions to cope with the difficulties caused by the weather. The helplines are open to all farmers seeking advice in coping with the ongoing wet weather and challenging soil conditions.

Ongoing weather challenges

As an organisation, Teagasc is acutely aware of, and actively supporting farmers with, the challenges being faced on a day-to-day basis. Excessive volumes of rainfall and the resulting saturation of many soils have delayed spring plantings on tillage farms and have added additional labour and expense to grassland production systems.

Commenting on the reasoning for introducing these initiatives, Director of Knowledge Transfer at Teagasc, Dr Stan Lalor said: “The recent convening of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee (NFFSC) by the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, confirmed these challenges, while also highlighting the additional stresses and pressures farmers are facing.

“As part of this meeting, our respective Crops, Drystock and Dairy Knowledge Transfer Departments gathered, collated and presented information pertaining to the situation on the ground.

“With winter plantings being severely curtailed on tillage farms and just 10-15% of spring crops establishments having taken place on the driest areas of the country thus far, many tillage farmers will have to reassess their spring cropping plans for the weeks and months ahead.

“Grazing on both dairy and drystock farms has also been restricted, causing a tightening or exhaustion of silage stocks on some farms, requiring farmers to enter the market to purchase addition forage.

“Since the meeting of the NFFSC and given the ongoing challenges, Teagasc has moved to establish and implement a number of measures to support farmers during this trying time,” Dr Lalor said.

Measures to support farmers

Speaking on the further supports being made available, Head of Advisory Services at Teagasc, Thomas Curran said: “In addition to the fodder register, Teagasc will establish two support helplines, specific to tillage and grassland farmers, to offer support and advice on general farm queries and the challenges that may arise over the coming weeks.

“Coming into effect from Monday, April 8, these helplines will run from 9am to 9pm daily. Outside of these hours, a voicemail service will be in operation and queries left outside of operating hours will be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

“Furthermore, if not already planned, advisors will also be asked to convene all discussion groups in the coming weeks to provide support to group members.”

Additionally, the material delivered at Teagasc’s series of Grass 10 Spring Clover farm walks has been updated to reflect the ongoing challenges at farm level. Initially created to deliver messages on the establishment of clover, these events – taking place across the country – will also feature a discussion on current grazing and fertiliser applications in light of the difficult conditions this spring. Teagasc Advisors and Specialists will be on hand to take questions from farmers that have issues as part of these events.

Find details of the nearest Spring Clover Walk to your farm here

Furthermore, as part of its recent ‘Managing the herd in current weather conditions’ webinar, the Teagasc Dairy Specialist team also offered key advice to farmers in relation to dealing with silage shortages, managing grazing in wet conditions, feeding the herd pre-breeding and getting the spring rotation planner back on track.

A recoding of the webinar is available to view here

Also read: Risk mitigation advice for tillage farms

Also read: Time to reset and plan again on tillage farms

Also read: Learnings from Ballyhaise – managing through a difficult spring

Also read: How do we best feed the dairy cow in the current situation?

Also read: The challenges occurring on drystock farms and key advice

Also read: Managing the challenging grazing conditions on sheep farms