In response to difficulties currently being experienced by farmers in sourcing fodder, I introduced a scheme on the 24th April last – the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme – under which €1m is being made available to assist in transport costs associated with importation of forage from abroad. The Scheme is operated by my Department through the Dairy Co-operatives/Milk Purchasers. The scheme originally covered forage imported by the co-ops from 15th April 2013 to 3rd May 2013 but I have announced an extension to the duration of the scheme for one week until Friday 10th May 2013. In order to provide for wider variety of forage, I have included maize silage under the scheme and large quantities of maize silage are currently being sourced abroad for early delivery to farmers.
The Department funded scheme complements the work being done by the farm organisations, the dairy co-operatives and marts etc who are making great efforts to assist farmers in need of fodder. In addition to the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme, emergency assistance continues to be made available under my Department’s early warning system to farmers whose animals are currently experiencing serious welfare issues and where the farmer him/herself is unable to cope with the situation.
With regard to the EU Solidarity Fund, this Fund is, in the main, confined to major disasters which have lasting repercussions on economic stability, living conditions and the natural environment. A natural disaster is considered as 'major' if it results in damage on the State’s territory estimated either at over EUR 3 billion (2002 prices), or at more than 0.6 % of its gross national income. I am keeping the funding and fodder situation under review and will react as appropriate to emerging situations.