Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív has criticised the length of time it took the Minister for Agriculture to respond to the fodder shortage.

Mr Ó Cuív, who was speaking during a Fianna Fáil motion in the Dáil, said farmers had been driven to desperation.

He told Minister Simon Coveney that he needs to make long-term and short-term measures to prevent future crises.

Mr Ó Cuív called on the minister to extend the transport scheme beyond the current deadline of 10 May.

Minister Coveney said there was a total misunderstanding about the level of engagement between his department, farming organisations and farmers.

He said that his department has been engaging with farmers and farming organisations since this time last year because of the poor weather and the poor harvest.

Mr Coveney said that his department saw that fodder supplies were running out and did what it could to help.

Labour's Arthur Spring said that there is a crisis predominantly along the west coast and the fields are black instead of green.

Mr Spring said it was a crisis down to the weather not to politics and he said the minister is dealing with it adequately.

Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris said the situation has not been helped by the financial institutions.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said that growth has started in some parts of the country, but not in all areas.

Independent TD Tom Fleming called for the transport scheme to be extended into May, saying such an extension would be a great help to farmers next year.

The motion has been adjourned until Wednesday night.