Given the severe impact of the recent weather on grass growth and availability, very tight winter fodder supplies and very expensive concentrate prices, Seamus Troy, Chairperson of Tipperary ICMSA, has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine to consider greater flexibility regarding the grazing rules for land in REPS 4 and so provide a release valve for many farmers who are under severe pressure at present due to the weather.
Mr Troy noted that in some cases a farmer who is in REPS 4 may have some grazing available which could be utilised by another farmer who is under pressure for grass. However, under the current REPS 4 rules, such grazing is only allowable for 4 months of the year, must be provided for in the plan, the REPS 4 participant must manage the cattle and the movement must meet the various conditions under animal identification and health. As a result, these arrangements are totally impractical and certainly do not the suit the situations in which farmers presently find themselves. For example, the cattle management provision does not suit a dairy farmer who would be bringing his/her dairy cows back to the home farm twice a day for milking.
“There is very real pressure on farmers at present and a small level of flexibility on these regulations would provide some relief for some farmers. ICMSA is proposing that a REPS 4 farmer should be allowed to permit cattle from another farmer to graze his/her land provided there is no intermixing of livestock similar to the situation where land would be rented for conacre. It is quite clear there would be no implications for animal health, the conditions of REPS could continue to be met and an arrangement could be reached that would suit both parties”, said Mr Troy, who farms at Coalbrook near Thurles.