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Committee to meet over financial support for farmers

The National Fodder and Food Security Committee will meet later today to address the issue of financial support for farmers due to the fodder crisis.

The meeting, which will be attended by farm leaders, Department of Agriculture officials and officials from relevant bodies will discuss the latest situation relating to animal feed on farms.

Due to continued rainfall, grassland and tillage fields have been unusable.

The farm advisory service, Teagasc, has opened telephone advice lines for farmers to help deal with any fodder shortages.

Stan Lalor, Director of Knowledge Transfer at Teagasc, said that the situation for farmers “is quite concerning” as we are experiencing a very late spring on foot of what was a very early winter.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said that saturated soil is making it very difficult for farmers to get out to the fields.

“A lot of farmers are coming under quite a bit of pressure, both on the livestock side, but even more probably acutely on the on the tillage side,” he said.

Mr Lalor said that Teagasc is helping farmers who are out of fodder with additional supports.

He said that supplies of fodder are “getting tighter” and the longer this wet weather prevails, the worse it gets.

He said Teagasc is supporting farmers as much as possible to try and come up with strategies to get animals out.

He also said that Teagasc is trying to connect “farmers with other farmers who might have fodder stocks available for the small but growing number of farmers who are out of order and need to source additional feed for animals now for the coming days and weeks”.

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Mr Lalor said that today’s meeting is about what supports are available for farmers.

“We have a very strong tradition in this industry and agriculture and in farming in terms of supporting each other and the industry working together,” he said.

Mr Lalor said that even when the wet weather ends, it is going to be “a real challenge” for farmers.

“A very, very small proportion of work is done in relation to spring cropping. Yet this year there’s also a lot of work to catch up on the winter crops,” he said.

“Our specialists would say that a lot of fields could take anything up to a week of a good dry spell in terms of getting in and more in some cases.

“So, a lot of the advice to farmers is just really looking across the farm where maybe the drier areas that can be targeted to start first and also big decisions to be made in relation to cropping plans for the year ahead.”

The new telephone helplines will operate six days a week from 9am until 9pm and will offer farmers advice on managing through the current difficult period.

The grassland helpline number is 059 9183155 and the crop helpline number is 059 9183533.

Farmers can also leave messages if they cannot get through and will get a call back.

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