Shannon Airport bales out local farmers...

Fodder worth €40,000 made available as silage is cut on 300 acre site

 Shannon Airport permitted contractors to harvest its landbank, which is expected to yield 1,000 bales for silage.  Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press22

Shannon Airport permitted contractors to harvest its landbank, which is expected to yield 1,000 bales for silage. Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press22

Fri, Apr 26, 2013, 22:59

Farmers in Co Clare affected by the ongoing fodder shortage received a boost yesterday when Shannon Airport permitted contractors to harvest its landbank, yielding 1,000 bales for silage.

The airport normally only cuts the grass on its 300-acre site every three years, but management agreed to move the harvest forward by two years following a request from the Irish Farmers’ Association.

The airport did not charge for the grass, but farmers will have to pay about €12.50 a bale to cover contractor costs. The average price of a bale is €40.

Farmers across the State have been experiencing a shortage of fodder in recent weeks as supplies have run out following a poor harvest after a wet summer and autumn. This resulted in farmers being unable to save enough feed to get their herds through the winter months.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said this week that a fodder crisis of this scale had not been seen in living memory.

Kieran Woods, a farmer from Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co Clare, was present at Shannon yesterday for the harvest and said he was doing his best to cope with the shortage.

“I have a very small amount [of fodder] myself and it’s very scarce in many places,” he said. “While some areas are worse off than others, the airport has really done us a turn here.

“My own will last another week I’d say and hopefully what I get here in the airport will last another week. I’ll hopefully be OK after that if the weather holds. I should be cutting grass myself in June, all going well.”

Clare IFA chairman Andrew Dundas said he had been inundated with calls from farmers seeking a share of the Shannon harvest.

“The demand is phenomenal and quickly surpassed what’s available, which highlights how critical it is out there,” he said.