FARMERS face an extra €120m feed bill because of the bad weather during the summer months -- a topic that will set tongues wagging at the National Ploughing Championships.
State farming advisory experts Teagasc yesterday unveiled the true cost of the poor weather, which badly affected silage levels needed to feed animals this winter.
Over one-third of all farmers are short of fodder and will have to buy expensive food supplements at an estimated total cost of €120m. It is thought the cost could spiral to €7,300 for the average farmer.
Despite warnings of flash flooding in north and east Leinster and gale force winds overnight, the organisers of this year's Ploughing Championships believe it won't deter 150,000 people from travelling to the three-day event. Exhibitors were busy putting the final touches to the tented village and dusting off the top-spec machinery as the grounds at Heathpark, New Ross, Co Wexford, managed to escape the wet weather yesterday.
Organisers of one of Europe's largest outdoor trade events reported the 600-acre site would provide solid footing for the tens of thousands of people expected to go through the turnstiles today.
"It is all very firm. We've had pretty severe weather in previous years but as of now there hasn't been rain on site," Anna Marie McHugh, the managing director of the National Ploughing Association (NPA), said.
"Traditionally it doesn't deter the country people from travelling. We've had some very bad weather in Athy and it hasn't deterred people," she said.
"The advice is to bring the wellies and dress appropriately for the weather."
Organisers reported the tented village housing 1,200 exhibitors was firmly dug into the ground by professionals, while 15km of steel roadways snake across the site to provide some solid footing for the 150,000 visitors expected.
Yesterday, a group of 'pillagers' from the Viking Capital of Waterford could be spotted putting the final touches to their 40-foot Longboat -- based on an 11th century ship found in Denmark -- as part of a Destination Waterford tourism initiative.
Visitors will be able to see the Viking settlement go about its daily life, including demonstrations of cooking over an open fire, wood turning and, naturally, fighting. All those visiting the Ploughing Championships over the three days have been urged to leave two extra hours for travelling to the site.
Gardai have advised people to follow the five main routes and they will be manning all intersections close to the site.
Special traffic operations to ease tailbacks will be in place in Enniscorthy and New Ross, where heavy volumes of traffic are expected. The event will be formally opened at noon today by President Michael D Higgins, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to arrive on Thursday.