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FOCUS ON FODDER - Early action by farmers essential

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney was presented today with an update on the fodder situation by the Inter Agency Fodder committee. The briefing was a key point on the agenda for the Food Harvest High Level Implementation Committee which the Minister chairs. The Fodder committee was established by Minister Coveney to provide leadership and advice to farmers and stakeholders, and is chaired by Teagasc.

The Minister outlined ‘This committee was set up to provide guidance to farmers and the industry for the year ahead and prevent a recurrence of the difficulties experienced last winter. ‘A clear message from today’s presentation was that farmers need to act early to deal with any shortage. It is important that farmers complete a Fodder budget now’ he added

A recent fodder survey conducted by the committee in early July, confirmed an overall national fodder deficit of 12%. 2/3 of farmers have a deficit of 23%. Farmers identified their top four preferences in dealing with the deficit were to buy concentrates, buy silage, sell stock or buy straw.

Drought conditions have created fodder challenges but the recent rain will help. Opportunities remain on farms however to conserve additional fodder this autumn and farmers need to examine options to purchase supplementary feeds to bridge any gap.

As part of the committee’s ongoing work, a further survey will be undertaken in early September which will provide a clearer picture on fodder availability for the winter ahead.

‘Early planning along with strategic use of winter stocks to avoid a fodder shortage next spring is a key focus for my Department and Teagasc over the coming months. I have asked the Committee to continue to focus on informing and advising farmers on options that best suit their individual farms.

The key activities of the group to date include raising awareness amongst farmers and ongoing monitoring of the fodder situation. Fodder budgeting, cash budgeting are key elements of this advice also.

A national advisory campaign will continue over the coming months to provide further guidance to farmers.