The decision by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to suspend non-essential farm inspections until 22 April has been welcomed by Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Seán McNamara.

“This move signals an acknowledgment from the Department of Agriculture regarding the significant challenges farmers are facing due to adverse weather conditions.

"However, we also want an assurance that any inspections that do go ahead will take these adverse conditions into account,” he said.

On the issue of fodder shortages, McNamara said, “While Teagasc has reported that there is enough fodder to go around, our members on the ground are reporting a starkly different reality. A lot of farmers are having huge difficulties sourcing the fodder they need, which is of a decent quality, is at a price they can afford, and that they can afford to transport. It really is a dire situation out there.”

McNamara said news that the National Fodder and Food Security Committee (NFFSC) will reconvene next week is welcome but said the meeting should be an in-person one.

Financial aid

“At last week’s meeting of the [committee] - which took place online - ICSA and the other farming organisations were told that no financial assistance would be forthcoming.

“It is completely unacceptable to abandon farmers in such a time of need; it is even more unacceptable to do so over an online meeting. What we need is real engagement that will result in real financial aid for farmers put on the table.”