Straw prices have hit €50/bale (4x4) in the west and northwest, as farmers scramble to source scarce supplies.

While small quantities of straw have been sold in the south for €40-45/bale (4x4), stocks are extremely tight at this stage and prices are hardening as a consequence.

The cost of imported straw has also increased, with prices up €20-30/t since before Christmas.

Traders are now charging €270-280/t for English barley straw, compared to €240-250/t a month ago.

Importers warned that supplies of barley straw from Britain are getting extremely tight, and that farmers could have to take wheaten straw from February.

Armagh-Louth fodder importer John Fearon said sales of English straw to farmers in the Republic remained extremely strong.

“I have a lorry going to Cork or Limerick every day. There is big demand in Cork the whole time,” Fearon said.

Difficult harvest

Tight straw stocks this year are a direct consequence of last autumn’s difficult harvest.

While close to 7m bales (4x4) of straw were produced in 2022, this figure could be as low as 3m bales for the 2023 harvest.

Commenting on the worsening straw supply situation, the president of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) Vincent Roddy warned that it could not be allowed to deteriorate into an animal welfare issue.

Roddy reiterated the INHFA’s call for the introduction of a transport subsidy for straw imports so as to guarantee sufficient supplies.

“It is vital that we act in time to ensure that we don’t end up facing an animal welfare situation,” Roddy said.

“That is why we are asking the minister [for agriculture] to consider a transport subsidy to import straw,” he explained.