The volume of straw available is being closely monitored by the Department of Agriculture, its new Minister Barry Cowen has said.

The Minister said there was no immediate concern of a shortage in response to a question from Sinn Féin’s agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy.

Carthy asked whether a scheme would be introduced to support farmers affected by a shortage of straw.

Minister Cowen said: “Whilst there is concern that the reduced level of winter crop sowings and the recent dry spell impacting on spring sown crops will result in lower volumes of straw this year, it is premature to be definitive in terms of straw demand versus availability, in particular given that harvest 2020 has not commenced.”

2019 supply

He added that there was “an abundance of straw” produced in 2019 that carried over into this year which would help in offsetting some of the likely demand.

Industry estimates suggest supply could be almost halved, leading to a shortfall of over 3m bales. This is likely to be more pronounced for wheat straw, with its area reduced by 26%.

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