Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has met with local representatives of the livestock industry to hear their assessment of the industry’s preparedness in the approach to winter.
Speaking after the meeting the minister said: “Our livestock industry suffered greatly during the severe weather in March. The unfavourable weather conditions which followed created even more problems, such as difficult ground conditions, poor grass growth and extended housing periods. This meant that emergency measures had to be taken quickly to alleviate some of the difficulties encountered. It soon became clear that the cumulative effect of these events and conditions would have a knock-on effect for the winter of 2013/14.
“In May, I established the Fodder Taskforce, bringing together farmers’ representatives and associated ancillary industries to identify potential difficulties and how they could be countered. Today’s meeting gave me an opportunity to update them on the progress of the Taskforce and to hear their assessment of how well farmers are prepared for the months ahead.”
At the meeting the minister heard how the work of the Taskforce had supported the industry during the summer growing season, and that many farmers are now better placed to avoid fodder supply problems.
The minister emphasised the need for farmers to manage their fodder utilisation and said: “We will soon have an assessment of the fodder availability on farms; however we do not know what the winter holds for us. It is important that farmers regularly review their fodder stocks and plan to ensure that they have sufficient to see out the winter period. The Taskforce will meet again to reassess the fodder situation during the winter. My department’s CAFRE advisors will also be on hand at all times to advise and support our industry through the months ahead.”
At the meeting the industry was represented by the UFU, NIAPA and the National Sheep Association.