Irwin raises fodder crisis with DAERA

William Irwin MLA is pictured with one of the contentious anti-dairy billboards in Armagh City and also with one of his dairy cows which he says"clearly shows just how much care dairy cows receive".
William Irwin MLA is pictured with one of the contentious anti-dairy billboards in Armagh City and also with one of his dairy cows which he says"clearly shows just how much care dairy cows receive".

Newry & Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin has spoken to officials in DEARA regarding the potential fodder crisis across Northern Ireland caused by the poor weather conditions over the last number of weeks.

Speaking about the present difficult farming conditions Mr Irwin said the province had experienced an unprecedented period of consistently wet weather right through from August of last year.

He added: “Now as we face a late spring farmers are really under pressure with regard to getting livestock out and fodder reserves are getting extremely low. I have spoken to DEARA officials in the past week who have assured me they are monitoring the fodder situation very closely.”

Mr Irwin said that if weather conditions don’t improve dramatically over the next week or so then there will be a severe shortage of feed and the potential for a full blown fodder crisis will unfold.

He added: “The situation has been made worse because the poor Autumn of last year ensured that many farmers in parts of Northern Ireland didn’t get to lift a second or even third cut of silage.

“Months of heavy rainfall through Autumn and winter have been followed by a cold wet spring resulting in poor ground conditions and little or no growth. Normally the spring time is very busy for farmers with the lambing season in full swing and land being prepared for crops as well as getting stock out to pasture. Unless the weather picks up soon many farmers will be left facing very difficult decisions with a fodder shortage and livestock unable to get out unto grass. This is as poor as I’ve seen it for a long time and farmers are hoping and praying for an upturn in the weather very soon.”

Mr Irwin concluded by saying that he would be keeping in close contact with the department should the poor weather continue and if the worst scenario does unfold then he will urge DEARA to implement measures to assist with the lack of fodder.