An extension of a scheme supporting the importation of fodder has been announced as some farmers continue to struggle to feed stock.

At the beginning of April, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said that €1.5 million would be allocated to help farmers who cannot access fodder in response to the serious fodder crisis caused by the long and cold winter.

The scheme hoped to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage from outside the island of Ireland.

It was due to end on Monday 30 April but Minister Creed has announced this evening that it has been pushed to Monday 7 May. 

The Irish Creamery Milk Supplier Association today called for an extension of the programme on the grounds that the fodder crisis is still ongoing.

Further bad weather has made ground conditions very difficult for some farmers across the country.

In a statement to RTÉ News, the Minister said: "While the weather has improved and grass growth continues to improve significantly, there are farmers in some parts of the country who still need to locate fodder for their animals."

He added: "Having reviewed the situation and listened to the views of members of the representative fodder group I established in March, I have decided that extending the closing date for the two measures for one further week is appropriate".

The Minister said that demand for fodder has reduced significantly, however there remain some areas where land is not yet sufficiently dry to graze livestock and there is still a short term demand for fodder.

Minister Creed said he wanted to reminded farmers that the animal welfare emergency assistance continues to operate where animal welfare is seriously at risk via the emergency helpline numbers - 0761 064408 or 01 6072379.