Last week Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue introduced a €55m hay and silage scheme for beef and sheep farmers.

Farmers will be paid €100/ha for up to 10ha of hay and silage this year and dairy farmers are excluded from applying to the scheme.

We spoke to farmers at Carnaross Mart in Meath to hear their views on the scheme.

Brendan and Alanna Cooney

“I think it’s a joke and I don’t plan on using the new scheme. From talking to other farmers in my situation, they aren’t too pleased with the scheme and feel the Government are giving it to us on one hand and taking it from the other.

“Many farmers feel the Government are using this scheme to regain farmers’ trust, potentially more politically driven than any measure of aid for the farmers. I think that dairy farmers should not be included in the scheme as they don’t rely on these payments as much as sheep and beef farmers.”

Brendan and Alanna Cooney.

Chris Gibney

“Yes, I plan on using the payment. I suppose it will be a good help, especially for us small sheep and suckler farmers.

“For a small farmer, €1,000 can go a long way to cover expenses such as fertiliser and contractors.

“It’s important to look after the smaller farmers as they put in a lot of time and effort into rearing their stock and receive very little returns.

“I don’t think dairy men should be included in the payment and they are receiving better prices to cover the upcoming fodder expense.”

Chris Gibney.

Hugh Muldoon

“I am a contractor myself, and think that it’s great for farmers to have it for the upcoming year. There is a lot a lot of expense with contracting this year. Diesel, which will be a huge expense, has doubled in price from this time last year.

“There are no winners, only the Government and ones selling the fuel, not the contractor or the farmers.

“I don’t think it’s exactly fair to exclude the dairy farmers, they are also experiencing huge cost this year.

“However, 10ha to a dairy farmer is really only a small portion of fodder compared to 10ha to a sheep or suckler farmer. I think it would be a good idea to increase the number of hectares to be used for dairy farmers so they could really benefit from the payment.”

Hugh Muldoon.

Eoin Griffin

“I think it is a great scheme for sheep and beef farmers to avail of. Every little bit helps, especially in a notably expensive year. I hope to use it myself and it should be a good help to paying towards my fodder expense this year.

“I think that dairy farmers should not be included in the payment as it is not as necessary for them compared to sheep and beef farmers.”

Eoin Griffin.

For more coverage, see week one of our Silage Serieshere.