My Department is monitoring animal mortality on an ongoing basis. There has been an increase of over 20% this Spring when compared to the same period in 2012. While access to fodder is an immediate priority, grass growth in the months ahead will be the key to ensuring that this problem is overcome. In this regards I have asked Teagasc’s advisory service to prioritise advice to farmers in the period ahead and to focus on the optimum use of fertiliser in generating feed for the national herd.
An Early Warning System, which is overseen by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council (FAWAC) and operated from my Department, has been in place for some time to respond to queries from farmers who are facing emergency animal welfare situations and are in need of support. Feed is being sourced and provided to any farmer who is dealing with an animal welfare crisis and is in need of assistance.
Over 500 calls have been received to date through the system. The vast majority of calls are being adequately supported through fodder being made available under the transport subsidy scheme but a small portion of farmers, in need of more substantial support have been assisted directly by the Department. In excess of 100 farmers have received emergency financial assistance to the value of €180 - €1,000 under this system.
My Department’s Veterinary Inspectors continue to be actively engaged in providing emergency assistance under the 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.
I want to remind farmers that the animal welfare emergency assistance helpline continues to operate where animal welfare is seriously at risk. The emergency helpline number - 1850 21 19 90 (Low-call). No animal should die of starvation in this country and help is available to those farmers who cannot cope. I will continue to work with all stakeholders in the sector to get through this difficult period caused by very unusual weather patterns.