The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has announced there will be €1.5 million allocated towards the introduction of a Fodder Import Support measure.
“In light of poor weather conditions and an evolving fodder supply challenge across the country, I am immediately introducing a support measure contributing to the cost of importing fodder from abroad,” said the Minister.
“I welcome the moves to import fodder by the co-operatives and this measure supports this initiative. The co-operative ethos remains very strong and vibrant in Irish Agriculture,” added Creed.
This measure is being introduced with immediate effect to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage (hay, silage, haylage etc) from outside the island of Ireland.
The measure will operate through the dairy co-operatives. It will cover forage imported by the co-ops from April 5th to April 30th and will be subject to EU State Aid rules (de-minimis rules).
Support under the measure will substantially reduce the cost to farmers of imported fodder by approximately one third says the Minister.
This initial allocation will support the importation of up to 20,000 tons of fodder into the country and this will be kept under ongoing review until the current crises is over.
The Minister stressed that while the measure will operate through the dairy co-operatives, the actual beneficiaries will be farmers who need urgent supplies of forage.
Minister Creed added:
“This measure will largely replicate the straightforward approach adopted in 2013 whereby a farmer approached a participating co-op, purchased fodder and my Department subsequently paid the transport support element to the co-op.”
Application forms and terms and conditions are now available through the co-ops and on the Department’s website.
This further measure builds on a range of supports to the agriculture sector, including the Fodder Transport Support measure introduced last January.
Specifically, the Minister said that this national measure would now apply to all counties with immediate effect, remove the need for a fodder budget and the minimum distance requirement would be reduced to 50 km.
The reduction in minimum transport distance will provide greater flexibility in both sourcing and supplying fodder but will ensure that the measure, which is a transport support, continues to respect the normal local trading arrangements that apply in the case of fodder.
Regarding GLAS measures, the Minister has also announced an extension to the closing date for grazing livestock on land containing the Traditional Hay Meadow action under the scheme. Grazing by livestock is now permitted up to May 1st of this year.
This additional commitment builds on previous support which included; Early payment of EU aid last Autumn resulting in €1.6 billion in payments before the end of 2017 to farmers under BPS, ANC and Agri-environment scheme, and the introduction of a National Transport support measure in January of this year facilitating the movement of fodder to the North and West.
“I will continue to monitor the fodder situation closely and work with all stakeholders until we have successfully come through this trying period,” concluded the Minister.