The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has called for a one-month suspension of all Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture on-farm inspections.

This comes following a prolonged period of rainfall which has brought fieldwork and turnout on farms to a standstill.

The reduction in inspections, ICOS maintained, would alleviate the current stress and workload on farms and ensure continued compliance with standards without additional pressure on farmers.

This was among five main priority areas highlighted by ICOS in a detailed report to the National Fodder and Food Security committee which met on Friday.

Feed rebate

A Government-matched rebate on feed, mirroring the support already provided by co-operatives, should be implemented, according to ICOS.

This will ease the financial burden on farmers by reducing the cost of essential supplements needed to bridge the nutritional gap caused by currently inadequate grazing, ICOS said.

Soil fertility

ICOS called for a targeted approach to improving soil fertility this year given P and K reductions over the last two years.

This, ICOS said, would ensure no impediment to grass production.

It also called for a strong direct communication campaign from all agencies to get this message out otherwise replenishing fodder reserves could be a challenge.

Tillage subsidy

A collaborative effort should be promoted between dairy, beef, and tillage sectors to optimise forage production, ICOS said.

It has called on the Department to consider a subsidy for tillage farmers to grow forage crops such as maize, beet and red clover. Given the late sowing date and reduced forage stocks, options to support incomes on tillage farms, while re-building fodder stocks on livestock farms, need to be considered, ICOS maintained.


Farmers need clear, accessible, and actionable advice to navigate the current crisis, ICOS said.

It emphasised the importance of distributing guidance through co-ops, farm organisations, and agricultural media offering practical strategies for managing the immediate challenges.

In addition to immediate relief measures, ICOS emphasised the importance of long-term resilience planning, collaboration between Government agencies and farmer organisations, education on weather-related risks, and regular monitoring of the effectiveness of support measures.

Speaking in advance of the fodder committee meeting, ICOS president Edward Carr said that farmers are currently grappling with mental and physical exhaustion, financial stress, fodder scarcity, unworkable ground conditions, and significant concerns regarding the health and productivity of their animals.

“The unprecedented weather conditions have led to a dire situation with reduced grazing, delayed fertiliser application, and the potential for long-term impacts on milk production, breeding and soil fertility.

Ground conditions

“Emergency supports are required until weather conditions are more conducive to cattle getting outdoors to graze. We need a multi-faceted approach to support the agricultural community during this challenging period," Carr said.

ICOS dairy committee chair, Niall Matthews maintained that immediate Government action is necessary to recognise and support the pressing needs arising from the current weather crisis.

“Farmers are resilient and will come through this challenging period and animal welfare will be prioritised but short-term emergency supports are required until weather conditions are more conducive to allowing cattle outdoors to graze, as there is plenty of grass on farms but ground conditions are very challenging at present," he said.