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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Contactors want Fodder Scheme extension due to ‘near drought’ conditions

Agricultural contractors are seeking an extension to the harvesting deadline for the Fodder Support Scheme from September 5th to September 30th, 2022.

The FCI is making the request on foot of “poor” grass growth as a result of “near drought” conditions on many farms across the country.

The lack of adequate rainfall during the summer of 2022 has resulted in near drought conditions on many farms, and has impacted negatively on grass growth, the body says.

FCI contractor members have identified that many farmers have delayed their silage and hay cutting as long as possible in the hope of “sufficient” grass growth.

Fodder scheme deadline

According to FCI national chair, John Hughes, grass growth has been “static” in many of these enterprises over the past six weeks.

“These farmers are now facing a situation where they are being forced to request their farm contractor to cut grass crops for silage or hay under the terms of the Fodder Support Scheme 2022 that are not economical due to poor yield returns, at this time.”

“They are requesting their FCI contractors to cut silage and hay crops that are clearly not viable in terms of costs, but are determined by the Fodder Support Scheme 2022 calendar date that is no longer valid, due to low summer rainfall,” he added.

Farming weather 

Met Éireann has indicated that Irish weather conditions are due to change this weekend, with significant “rainfall” amounts expected across large areas of Ireland.

This “long-awaited” rainfall will result in “significant” improvements in grass growth and make the harvesting of grass for silage or hay “more economically viable” for those farmers who have applied for support under the Fodder Support Scheme 2022.

“Unfortunately, for many farmers who have applied for support under this Fodder Support Scheme 2022, this will be too late for many as they must have completed the harvesting by next Tuesday, September 5th, 2022.”

The group believes pushing out the deadline until September 30th, 2022, could avoid creating some additional health and safety risks on farms.

Some farmers have depleted their stocks of bale and pit silage in recent weeks as grass growth for grazing animals has been restricted, the FCI says.

“These farmers are facing an additional fodder crisis that was unexpected at the time of the creation of the National Fodder Security Committee.”

“This new situation deserves attention for these farmers. Extending the closing date for the completion of the silage and hay harvest under the Fodder Support Scheme 2022, for those farmers with new levels of fodder shortage, will be a priority,” Hughes concluded.

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