The ongoing fodder crisis in Ireland is threatening supplies for farmers in parts of Wales where poor grass growth and rain-sodden fields are preventing turnout.

The Irish government is being pressurised to extend its fodder transport subsidy scheme to cover imports of fodder.

It comes as Irish co-operative Dairygold imports 2,500 tonnes of hay and haylage from the UK to distribute at cost to its members.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has now suggested that a similar subsidy scheme might be needed in Wales while the NFU and NFU Cymru is relaunching their online fodder bank to help members find animal feed for their farms, or sell any surplus.

The FUW said that while it was sympathetic to the situation in Ireland, there were implications for fodder prices and supply for its own members.

Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Dai Miles, the union’s milk and dairy committee chairman, said the removal of fodder from the UK market would add to existing pressures.

“We fully sympathise with Irish farmers regarding the pressures they are under, but with prices already extremely high in the UK and pressures mounting in parts of Wales, the impact of the Irish schemes for our members is naturally a concern.

“Above all else, farmers in Wales need to see a dramatic improvement in the weather. Otherwise, we will have to urgently consider schemes similar to those operating in Ireland.’’

In response, the Welsh Government said it has worked with the agriculture industry since the severe winter in 2013 to put in place stronger arrangements to improve the monitoring of severe weather and its impact on the sector.

“This allows us to respond quickly when government action is necessary,’’ said a spokesperson.

Powys upland beef and sheep farmer John Yeomans has been forced to buy additional feed because of delayed turnout, recently paying £55/tonne delivered for maize silage.

He was not critical of the Irish fodder scheme. “Morally it is difficult to begrudge others who are in trouble, I like to think that we would support farmers all over the world who are in trouble.’’

But he admitted that the slow spring would have lasting financial repercussions for his business.

“We have just spent £900 on silage but we won’t get that £900 back in livestock sales,’’ he pointed out.

Mr Yeomans said his parents had bought the farm in 1973 and in any year since then he had never known conditions to be so wet.

He doesn’t believe that fodder transport subsidies are the answer going forward. “If we had fair and consistent prices for our stock we wouldn’t need subsidising.’’

NFU Cymru president John Davies said: “I am hearing from farmers who say that the sustained wet weather has meant very few have been able to turn out their livestock and this has led to increasing difficulty sourcing available forage.

“In addition to the NFU and NFU Cymru relaunching their fodder bank to help their members, we will also be discussing impacts of the wet weather and any support needed with industry and government."

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