Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (401)

Pat Deering

Question:

401. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the fodder situation. [51788/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the Deputy is aware, 2018 presented the agriculture community with some very challenging conditions in terms of a prolonged wet Spring period followed almost immediately by a period of exceptionally dry, hot weather.  Notwithstanding these events there was a return in the third quarter of the year to more normal climatic conditions which benefitted the agriculture sector in terms of a late season grass growth.

My priority throughout the year has been to support measures to assist in the conservation of as much fodder for this Winter as possible from within our own resources and to supplement this with necessary imports as required. To this end I introduced a number of targeted measures including:

- a €2.75 million Fodder Production Incentive for Tillage Farmers to encourage tillage growers to actively engage in the fodder market and there has been positive engagement with this measure

- a €4.25 million Fodder Import Support Measure for Autumn 2018. The measure seeks to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage. The measure operates through the Co-operatives/registered importers and will cover forage imported from 12th August 2018 to 31st December 2018. 

In July I secured agreement from EU Commissioner Hogan to pay higher advance Pillar 1 and 2 payments, increased to 70% and 85% respectively. In excess of €1.5 billion has been paid to farmers to date under Pillar 1 and 2 since mid September. 

Following consultation with the EU Commission, my Department made some temporary adjustments to the GLAS scheme for this year which have the potential to add to the quantities of winter fodder available by bringing over 260,000 additional hectares into production. In addition, in consultation with my ministerial colleague Mr. Eoghan Murphy T.D., a two week extension of the closed period for the spreading of chemical and organic fertilisers was implemented that allowed farmers capitalise on autumn grass growth for fodder production.

The most recent national fodder survey conducted on my behalf by Teagasc last October indicated that the national fodder shortfall has been reduced to 1% nationally.  It is clear that the various support interventions I have introduced have worked and continue to help alleviate what was a very serious fodder conservation issue on many farms during the dry summer period

It is important to stress that while the deficit nationally has been reduced significantly there still remains a fodder deficit on some farms and there is a need for farmers to remain vigilant and avoid complacency. I have urged Teagasc and the other Stakeholders to continue their individual efforts in support of those farmers worst affected and in need of help.

I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to closely monitor the fodder situation during the coming period.