The majority of farmers have fodder supplies in place and it is available to purchase, the National Fodder and Food Security Committee has concluded after a meeting organised last Friday.

A statement released by Teagasc after a meeting of the committee said farmers have fodder and it is available.

“The overarching consensus was that supplies of fodder are in place either on farm or available to purchase.

“Grazing progress is well behind normal on most farms, resulting in higher-than-normal grass covers in fields.

“The focus is to get grazed grass into the diet of animals when conditions allow, prioritising access to grass for longest-calved cows who are nearing peak milk production,” it added.

Teagasc provided the committee with an update on grass growth data, as well as an assessment based on feedback from drystock and dairy farms.

Grassland advice

Teagasc advised farmers in the short term to assess opportunities to get animals out to grass, including taking any chance to utilise on-off grazing or the restricted turn-out of particular groups of animals.

The advisory body also said farmers should assess and secure any additional fodder, feed and fertiliser required, as well as taking action early to secure supply in good time.

Looking at practical steps to ease stress and reduce workload on farm was also advised.

Tillage advice

Teagasc highlighted that there are almost no spring crops sown due to the lack of any real window of opportunity for field cultivation work.

This is adding to the pressure where many autumn-sown crops have struggled with weather since sowing.

The body added that there are risks associated with later-sown crops, particularly pushing out harvest dates into September.

Keeping options open to planting a range of crops remains important based on seed supply and also remains preferable for spreading workload and for crop rotation benefits.

In the days ahead, Teagasc advised tillage farmers to review their cropping plan. In this regard, it said to consider likely cultivation opportunities, subsequent workload and harvest impact.

Teagasc also suggested that farmers consider crop margin and explore other cropping options, including contracted forage crops where possible.

It added that farmers should secure a source of seed and fertiliser based on planned crops, if not already in place.


Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue convened a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee on Friday 29 March to assess the impact the weather is having on farms.

The statement from Teagasc said contributions focused on the pressure and stress being felt at farm level due to the poor weather and difficult soil conditions.

The lack of opportunity for tillage work in fields, fodder stocks, slurry storage capacity and cashflow issues were among the concerns raised.

Chair Mike Magan said the focus needs to be on the immediate issues and taking pressure off farmers, as well as everybody watching out and supporting each other.

Medium- and longer-term actions are to be further considered in the coming weeks, including fodder and straw provision for the winter ahead.

IFA reaction

Following the meeting, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Francie Gorman called on all milk processors to pay a hardship top-up of at least 3c/l on all March milk.

“Dairy farmers are having a dreadful time with the desperate weather conditions.

“While falling stocks of fodder, full slurry tanks and the huge additional workload are serious issues, what farmers really need now is a boost to cashflow.

“Now is the time for our co-ops and processors to step up and make a top-up payment on March milk.

“Processors will not be paying for milk supplied in March until mid- to late-April.

“They are fully aware of the dire situation their members and suppliers are in before they set the March milk price. They must support them with a much-needed cashflow injection,” he said.

The IFA president added that banks and credit unions should offer maximum flexibility to farmers who are tight on cashflow.

“In particular, we need to make sure livestock farmers have access to short-term credit.

“We also want the Department of Agriculture to fast-track any payments to farmers,” he said.

The IFA also proposed that all farm inspections are suspended and suppliers reduce feed prices.

The farm organisation reiterated that Minister McConalogue should introduce a tillage survival scheme.

“It is clear that farmers are under huge pressure. It is important that farmers check in on their neighbours.

“Farmers should not be afraid to ask for help,” Gorman added.