BY EMMA CONNOLLY
FARMERS in parts of Bantry, Kealkil and Glengarriff are beginning to feel the effects of the fodder shortage that’s devastated parts of the North and North West.
And, with hay, straw and silage between 20 and 40% more expensive this year than last before the additional cost of transport is taken into account, the situation could put farmers under pressure financially.
Average prices currently being quoted are €30 for a bale of silage and €34 for a bale of straw.
Corney Buckley, West Cork IFA chairman, said that while there’s enough feed available in Cork county, it’s the logistics of finding out exactly what is available; where it’s located, and the cost involved in getting it to those in need, that needs to be established – and fast.
He is advising anyone in difficulty now, or who fear they may be in trouble later in the season, to contact their local Teagasc advisor to establish their best options.
A fodder action group has been set up to figure out the availability in southern counties to cater for the North and North West.
The group comprises farm organisations, co-ops, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc and various financial institutions,
However, Mr Buckley said the IFA is also calling on Agriculture Minister Michael Creed to set up a subsidy to cover the transport of feed for local farmers.
‘There’s ample feed - it’s the issue of getting it from East to West is the issue,’ he said. ‘Obviously conditions here weren’t as bad as up the country, but you can often have the situation where it’s raining in Bantry and dry in Bandon; or raining in Bantry and dry even in Skibbereen. Some people may not have had the opportunity to cut all their silage, or they may have been a week late harvesting and just got caught,’ he said.
Options for those in a vulnerable situation involve supplement with ration or buying in additional feed – either way there are costs involved which he said ‘would put people under pressure.’
Chairman of Cork Central IFA, Harold Kingston, agreed that the transport of fodder, as opposed to the shortage of it, is the biggest issue facing farmers right now.
And the basic consequence of that, he explained, is increased cost for the farmer.
‘Some 10% less straw was baled in this country nationally making it a supply and demand issue. You can stretch our silage if you have straw. And while there’s plenty of silage in the country compared to 2012, the logistics of transporting straw is far easier,’ he said.
Speaking about his own situation, Harold said that, if he needed to in the past, he sourced fodder from near Kinsale. However, that supply has already been sold this year.
‘So in the situation that I might need additional bales I’d be potentially looking at sourcing them in Kildare,’ he said.
He also appealed to those in the industry not to try to make a ‘fast buck’ in this situation.
‘I’d ask people not to take advantage of people’s misfortune and for fellow farmers to look out for each other.10% of straw is missing off the market so I’d expect it to be more expensive, but would ask that people don’t take advantage,’ said the Cork Central IFA chairman.