The Government has been urged to implement a scheme to import fodder from overseas "as soon as possible" in response to the summer drought.

An unusually hot and dry summer, coupled with late snow in the spring, has impacted on the quantity and quality of fodder being harvested on Irish farms.

In a statement, the President of the Irish Farmers' Association said a fodder import scheme will have to be part of the Government's response as soon as possible in order to give co-ops and merchants the best chance of sourcing fodder.

"Farmers will save as much fodder as they can, but it is very unlikely that we will be able grow enough," Joe Healy said.

"An import scheme would help to meet the demand," he added.

Mr Healy also said the organisation was waiting for clarifications on derogations to the GLAS enivronmental scheme which would make more land available to conserve fodder.

He added that farmers need "more flexibility on fertiliser application rules to allow them to maximise grass growth in the next few months".

The IFA is also calling on Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to immediately introduce low-cost loans which were included in Budget 2018.

They say these are necessary to help farmers to pay for feed and other inputs.

A fodder import scheme was announced in April of this year to alleviate feed shortages on farms where stock had to be housed for longer due to the long, cold winter.

Underfoot conditions on farms in many parts of the country were such that heavier livestock could not be allowed out to graze for up to two month longer than usual.