The President of ICMSA has said that the significant increases in farmers ordering ration and feed from merchants must be interpreted as signal that we are likely to face fodder and feed issues throughout the remainder of the years and into Spring 2019. Pat McCormack said that while it did no-one any good to overly dwell on the negatives, it would be “very remiss” of the Government and stakeholders not to move immediately towards preparing a response to an upcoming period that would, he feared, present a nearly unparalleled challenge to the state’s multi-billion farming and food sector across several fronts.
Specifically dealing with reports from feed merchants noting sharply upward unseasonal orders from farmers, Mr. McCormack said that they coincided with his association’s own analysis: “we already know that right across the country farmers have already fed their stock the first cut silage that they were able to get in in May. There hasn’t been a second cut for the obvious reason that there hasn’t been rain and even if the weather conditions became optimum for growing grass it’s very probable that unless we have a long wet and warm Autumn we’re looking at a second year of fodder pressure. I don’t want to be alarmist and I’m incredibly conscious of the stress that farmers and their families are already under, but we have to face reality and what I want to say is that we shouldn’t have to face this reality alone. We desperately need the Government to begin immediately to prepare for what looks inevitable and that will mean a real and meaningful ‘roundtable’ that brings everyone together – officials, farmers, processors, beef factories and feed merchants – and works through the ways by which we can help the farmers who are the basis for our whole multi-billion Euro agri sector. We have to proceed on the basis that there’s going to be a major problem; if there isn’t and the weather turns prefect then that’s great. But we can’t rely on that and ICMSA is saying that we have to plan according to the reality now.”
The ICMSA President said that the ‘Nightmare Scenario’ had a fodder shortage rolling into next Spring and the Brexit crisis unresolved leaving the UK ‘crashing out’ in a way that threatened our traditional British markets.
“I said recently that farmers felt that the Irish Government’s concentration had been on the ‘North-South Political’ at the expense of the ‘West-East Economic’, that we had been focussed on blocking the reintroduction of a hard border and maybe had ignored the post-Brexit trade scenarios. ICMSA understands why the Government felt it had to stand absolutely with the EU but nerves are starting to really jangle in our farming and agri-food sectors, Ireland is the most exposed economy in the EU to a ‘No Deal’ situation and within that, farming and agri-food is the most exposed sector. The amendments the UK Government was forced to accept days ago will likely prove unacceptable to the EU negotiators and the prospect of the UK crashing out next March – a once unthinkable prospect – is now becoming distinctly possible. Everywhere farmers look we see real difficulties and what I’m saying now is that it’s time to really engage with them and start coming forward with positive options. We have answers to these problems but the Government must grasp how critical this could get – indeed how critical it already is”, said Mr. McCormack.
Ends 20 July 2018
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office