As concern grows around food and animal feed in light of the war in Ukraine the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have outlined the need to consider various options in addressing these concerns. Speaking after a specially convened National Council meeting of the association, National Vice President Pheilim Molloy stated how “we will need to be creative and practical as we face into this storm.”
For farmers, continued Molloy, “price and supply, especially in relation to fertiliser is a key consideration as it will impact both in the short-term and into next year if fodder yields are back.”
On this the INHFA leader pointed to the possibility of wool as an alternative fertiliser source. “With wool containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in addition to sulphur and other valuable minerals this could be an additional option on some farms.” said Molloy.
It is, he stressed, “vital that the company now commissioned to assess alternative options for wool, prioritises this with a view to assessing its feasibility and if it is a viable option then we need to put a plan in place as soon as possible.”
Beyond this there are a number of other options the Government and Department should consider, explained Molloy which include,
• On GLAS, changes to the Traditional Hay Meadow option to extend grazing from the 15th April up to the 7th of May which will take pressure off grass supply and the requirement for fertiliser.
• Still on GLAS under the Wild Bird cover option there IS currently 8,000ha growing barley and where possible some of this could be brought into the food chain.
• In looking to increase the area of arable land we must recognise that there is land and areas of the country where for various reasons this is not an option. However, there are large areas of State-owned land that could be suitable and this needs to be explored.
• In the wider context there needs to be greater focus on small scale local food production
As already stated, the proposals outlined in addition to many more can form part of an overall solution. However, the INHFA Representative was anxious to also address the growing costs which he stated “is now becoming a major concern.”
While some of these costs are, he added “outside of our control it is time for the Government to address the elephant in the room that is the carbon tax.”
This continued Molloy “is a significant factor in the increasing costs of green and white diesel and must now be addressed. On this basis we are calling for the suspension of carbon tax for the next seven months which will get us to the end of the harvest season.”
In doing this we will, he concluded, “help alleviate some of the financial pressure on farmers and contractors.”