KERRY farmers are combating difficulties on a scale never before experienced due to the record rainfall that has soaked the county this year.
Farmers have been forced to house cattle early, while winter fodder levels look set to be at an all time low as the struggle to cut silage continues.
The farmers' plight was raised at the September meeting of Kerry County Council where a number of councillors called for measures to aid farmers.
The councillors called for an invitation to be sent to the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Simon Coveney, asking him to visit Kerry and witness the seriousness of the situation.
Cllr Brendan Cronin said immediate action needed to be taken to help farmers and he criticised the Minister for Agriculture for what he claimed was his absence in the midst of the crisis.
"Farmers are facing a crisis with regard to fodder for the coming winter," he said. "Farmland is flooded, destroyed. Dairy and dry cattle are inside and farmers are facing massive costs due to having to buy feedstuffs to keep themselves going."
"Minister Simon Coveney is the Minister for Agriculture, and agriculture is a major employer in this country. It was deemed one of the shining lights of the recovery of the economy. There has been no sign of him, but he will be below in Wexford shaking hands with people at the National Ploughing Championships," Cllr Cronin remarked.
Cllr Cronin also called for an extension to the seasons for slurry spreading and nitrogen enrichment, while also calling on feed manufacturers to produce a lowcost feed to see farmers through the winter.
Cllr John Joe Culloty pointed out that now was the time to take action.
"Next spring is when the trouble will really hit home. Next January, February or March will be too late to do anything. Now is the time," he said.
Cllr Culloty called on Minister Simon Coveney to immediately request funding from the European Union Solidarity Fund.
"This process should commence immediately as it is very obvious that there will be a serious shortage of fodder this winter," Cllr Culloty stated.
Cllr Danny Healy-Rae said that to say things were bad would be an underestimation and he also urged Minister Coveney to provide some financial assistance for farmers.
"Silage should have been cut five or six weeks ago but it couldn't be done. Farmers have been trying again in the last week or so. Farmers have had cattle inside for the last 2 months to 10 weeks and they can't leave them out now because the ground is in a state," he said.
Cllr Healy-Rae also called on Kerry Group to aid farmers by reducing the price of feedstuffs.
"Can Kerry Group do any better with the price of feedstuffs?" he asked. "It has doubled and the word is that it is going to get dearer."
"It was the farmers of Kerry that put Kerry Co- Op on the road in the first place," Cllr Healy-Rae remarked.