Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has announced the allocation of €1.5m for the introduction of a Fodder Import Support Measure with immediate effect.

The decision comes in response to pressure from farmers and Co-Ops who have already started importing animal feed from abroad in response to the nationwide shortage that has developed here due to poor weather.

The new measure will support importation costs for 20,000 tonnes of fodder but the amount of money allocated will be kept under constant review until the animal feed crisis is over.

Minister Creed has also eased the terms of the existing fodder transport scheme for fodder exchanges within Ireland announced at the end of January.

That scheme will now apply to all counties instead of just those in the northwest of the country that were originally covered.

The requirement for farmer applicants to have a completed fodder budget signed off by a Teagasc official before applying for assistance has been dropped.

The minimum distance the fodder needs to be transported by for exchange has been reduced from 100km to 50km.

It comes as the first delivery of imported animal feed in response to the deepening fodder crisis has arrived in Rosslare.

The feed, which has been imported from Britain, will then be distributed by Dairygold Co-Op to ten locations around Munster.

Further significant imports are scheduled for the coming days, with Glanbia and Lakeland Dairies saying that they have also sourced animal feed abroad for their members.

The Dairygold Co-Op executives who sourced and organised the first 2,500 tonnes of animal feed in response to the deepening weather-related shortage are attempting to locate even more supplies to distribute to their farmer members.

Seamus O'Mahoney, Head of Sales at Dairygold Argi Business, said around 3,500 bales are expected to arrive at Rosslare Port over the next two to three days.

The last time a fodder importation scheme was required was in 2013.

On that occasion, a total of 140,000 tonnes of imported supplies were required to meet the shortage in supply.

Glanbia, the country's largest dairy processor, has said it will make a support payment of €50 per tonne on all ruminant feed purchased by its co-op members during the month of April.

It has also arranged for the import of 1,000 tonnes of alfalfa from Spain, which will land in Dublin this weekend for distribution to Glanbia branches by early next week.

Lakeland Dairies announced yesterday that it too has established a number of immediate fodder supply channels from the UK and that it will buy any surpluses from farmers here for redistribution.

The Irish Co-operative Society said that the weather over the next seven to ten days will be critical.

If the weather does improve, grass growth will resume and the situation will be largely resolved.

However, it warned that the situation will become very serious if the weather does not improve.