A way to avert fodder crisis for livestock

 

Sir, – As an organic farmer participating in the Glas scheme I receive a small annual payment for a parcel of land deemed Environmentally Managed Fallow Land. This sum is paid to me by the Department of Agriculture, and I am very happy with it.

To avail of this payment I have had to sow a certain mix of grasses and keep all livestock off it. I have to top the grass once a year, but not before 1st September. After topping, this heavy crop of cut grass is expected to lie on the ground to rot. On no account am I allowed to gather it up, most especially in a case where it might be used as fodder for animals this winter.

Given that many farmers are already feeding their cattle precious silage, saved for the coming winter, and dairy farmers are culling perfectly good milking cows, as they are unable to feed them, I feel that there is something radically wrong with this dog-in-the-manger scheme.

I know it was devised several years ago – long before we were faced with the harshest winter in memory followed by this equally harsh drought – so there must be a way around it now.

I have written to our Minister of Agriculture, Michael Creed, asking him to find a solution whereby the grass on all the many hectares of Environmentally Managed Fallow Land around Ireland could be harvested and saved as a national reserve, and given to farmers in dire need at the cost of baling and wrapping. That way, the farmers in the Glas scheme could not be accused of making money twice off the same land.

We should remember that earlier this year we were importing hay from Britain due to our fodder shortage, and bear in mind that this may not be a future possibility after Brexit at the end of March 2019.

As it is holiday time, I do not expect a reply from Minister Creed before I cut my grass. In fact I doubt if he will ever even read my letter. But I am hoping that someone will read this letter, pick up the idea and do something about it. – Yours, etc,

ANNE STRAHAN,

Co Tipperary.