Thursday, 29 March 2018
Topical Issue Debate
I refer to the phrase "grassland management" in the Minister's reply. Unfortunately, from the two counties I represent there will not be a problem in managing grass for some time this year; it is cold and miserable and there is no growth. It is a delayed season. The Minister also spoke of the capacity to conserve adequate winter feed for the livestock numbers on the farm. The problems are compounded by the long winter and the fact that a lot of farmers in my type of terrain, and maybe in the Minister's own part of Cork, did not get their second cut of silage.
During the last Topical Issue debate on this matter, I instanced the last days of October, when I happened to be travelling throughout much of counties Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh. People were cutting silage during those days but were bringing in as much clay as grass. The value of what they gathered up probably did not pay for the price of the diesel. It was so-called fodder. Many farmers had hoped the weather would improve in August or even early September in order that they could get a second cut of silage, but they did not get it. They housed their cattle from July and could neither get that second cut of silage nor make their hay late. This has all compounded the problem, as have the very long winter, the rainfall, the severe storms and the current cold weather. There is no prospect of an early growth of grass. I appeal to the Minister to give urgent consideration to the request that we have genuinely made on behalf of the farming communities in the areas we represent. Assistance must be given directly to farmers as soon as possible.