23rd APRIL 2020 - Page 5



FARM WEEK
NEWS
By Terri Leonard
T
HE Department of Agriculture has said fodder
shortages
are
being
“positively
managed”
by farmers through a
combination of measures after it
was criticised for its response to the
developing situation.
It confirmed that by taking action
such as buying in fodder and
employing targeted destocking,
there appears to be at this stage
“sufficient supplies of fodder to
address foreseeable demand.”
DAERA made the comments
after facing criticism from Ulster
Unionist Party leader Robin Swann
who urged the department to “step
up” its response after accusing it of
doing “too little too late”.
The MLA said: “Whilst I welcome
the upcoming CAFRE meetings,
for some it’s too little too late. The
department should have been more
proactive in assessing just how
severe the fodder shortage is in the
worst affected areas, and identifying
any surplus fodder in other parts of
the country which they could assist
with being distributed.
“I have been warning since August
that there was a danger of a fodder
crisis. Whilst there was a short
break in the weather two weeks
ago, which led to possibly the single
greatest number of round bales
made in a single day in Northern
Ireland’s history, the problem
remains severe.
“Already
politicians
in
the
Republic of Ireland have been very
clear that their government will
simply not allow the situation to
deteriorate to such an extent that
there is a welfare issue to their
animals. In reality that means they
won’t sit idly by if farms literally
NOVEMBER 23 2017
5
Fodder shortages are being
‘positively managed’: DAERA
CRITICISM: Unionist
Parry leader Robin
Swann urged DAERA to
step up its response.
run out of fodder and don’t have the
immediate resources to bring more
in.
“Unfortunately,
no
such
commitments have been here, and
in the ongoing absence of a local
Executive it’s unlikely it ever will.”
Mr Swann said rising prices in the
Republic are beginning to have an
impact in Northern Ireland.
He said: “I’m aware of 4x4 bales of
hay selling for €50 in the Republic,
and people would be hard-pressed
to find any sort of round bale of
silage for less than €40. Straw is
even harder to find. Unfortunately,
these prices are spilling across
over the border so fodder here is
becoming just as hard to find. Even
in my own constituency of North
Antrim the prices which fodder is
selling at is unprecedented.
“Many farms, especially in the
North and West of Northern Ireland,
have been housing cattle for
months now. As a result, many are
well through their first cuts of silage
already.
“The one blessing over recent
weeks is that the trade for beef
cattle has been strong so many
farmers have been able to offload
surplus stock without taking a hit
on price.
“But prices mightn’t remain as
strong in the coming weeks. Whilst I
would encourage farmers in affected
areas to attend the CAFRE meetings,
I would urge DAERA to step-up and
look at how other neighbouring
regions are responding to what
could be the worst winter fodder
crisis in many years.”
In response, a spokesperson for
DAERA told FarmWeek: “DAERA
has been closely monitoring the
impact of persistent wet weather
on farm businesses during August,
September and October, which
caused
substantial
disruption
to silage harvesting (leading to
reduced fodder stocks), slurry
spreading, the harvesting of arable
crops
(particularly
potatoes)
and sowing of winter cereals and
necessitated the earlier housing of
cattle.
“Whilst these difficulties have
been faced by farmers across
Northern Ireland, the West and
North West regions have been worst
affected.
“However, fodder shortages are
currently being positively managed
by affected farmers through a
combination of measures designed
to reduce the risk of later difficulties
during the winter housing period.
“These actions include targeted
destocking, the tailoring of livestock
rations to extend available fodder
stocks and the purchase of fodder
(silage, forage maize, fodder beet,
straw and hay) locally and from the
South of Ireland and Great Britain.
Given these actions, there would
appear at this stage to be sufficient
supplies of fodder to address
foreseeable demand.”
Outlining measures taken by the
department to assist those in need,
the spokesperson continued: “To
assist farmers and growers, CAFRE
has been providing knowledge
transfer support and practical
advice through a programme of
technical press articles over the
past several weeks, as well as online Fodder and Relative Feed Value
Calculator resources.
“Three Winter Farm Management
workshop events are being held on
20th, 23rd and 28th November at
Omagh, Enniskillen and Coleraine
respectively to help farmers take
early action. Similar work is also
being progressed through the
Business Development Groups
Scheme.
“It is, of course, recognised
that this will be a difficult winter.
Therefore, DAERA will continue
to monitor closely the position of
farm businesses and review the
department’s practical support
provision as necessary.”

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