Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

'Huge' number of cattle have already been housed due to heavy rains

Approximately 40pc of Irish food exports go to the UK, while Ireland imports €2.8bn worth of food from the UK every year. Stock Image: PA
Approximately 40pc of Irish food exports go to the UK, while Ireland imports €2.8bn worth of food from the UK every year. Stock Image: PA

Claire Fox

FARMERS IN the west and northwest have been encouraged to evaluate their overall livestock feed needs for the coming winter to prevent fodder shortages, writes Claire Fox.

The advice comes as persistent, wet weather since July has forced the housing of beef and dairy herds from Kerry to Donegal.

While the overall rainfall figures for the year to date have not been exceptional, the bulk of the rain has fallen over the last 10 weeks.

Pearse Kelly of Teagasc said feedback from local advisory staff indicated that "huge numbers of cattle" had already been housed.

Mr Kelly said the west and northwest were the worst affected areas, but Limerick, west Tipperary and north Cork had been badly hit.

Teagasc has urged livestock farmers to do an evaluation of their fodder stocks and feed needs for the coming winter, and to tailor their feed management accordingly.

"The sooner farmers recognise they have an issue the better. They can plan to buy in extra feed, or sell stock. The problem is easier fixed if it is caught early," Mr Kelly explained.

He said farmers should plan now for a long winter and hope for a short one.

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While Mr Kelly said grass growth remained strong, he pointed out that poor ground conditions meant many farmers couldn't utilise this grass.

Meanwhile, ICMSA president John Comer has urged Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture to continue monitoring the situation carefully.

"This might have to be looked at very carefully and measures identified and taken that are necessary to assist farmers in difficulty," Mr Comer said.

"Obviously there's the situation in Donegal, but we're getting reports from other parts of the country where seasoned observers are on alert on the question of fodder," he added.

Temperatures are expected to rise this week and the weather to get generally drier. However, heavy showers are also forecast.

Meanwhile, the total cost of the Donegal floods to FBD will be "well over seven figures".

The insurance company told the Farming Independent that it had received 32 claims in relation to damage caused by the weather event.

They also said that they were treating the Donegal event as a storm and were covering damage caused by wind, water and lightening.

"We have had 32 claims to date covering farms, businesses and private homes. Approximately half of the claims are farms. The total cost to FBD will be well over seven figures," said the FBD representative.

"We are covering all losses covered by our policy. We viewed the Donegal event as a storm event and are therefore covering damage caused by wind, water and lightning. We have seen a lot of storm and property damage, water and wind. We are looking after damage to farmhouses, outbuildings, livestock and vehicles," they added.

Zurich said it only had limited claims in relation to farm insurance following the weather event in Donegal.

Relief fund

Henry O' Donnell of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmer's Association claimed that some insurance companies are not covering the cost of losses as they are labelling the event a flood and will not cover flood damage.

"They're calling it a flood not a storm and there's no cover for flooding even though Met Eireann called it a storm. It's incredible. There's no question that it was storm and flooding occurred as a result," he said.

Farmers who suffered a loss as a result of the flooding in Donegal can apply to the Department of Agriculture's Flood Damage relief fund.

Mr O'Donnell said that the application is "disappointing" as it doesn't cover loss to second cut silage and that there is uncertainty around the fact that it's a de minimis payment.

"It's a de minimis payment, so from my understanding if farmers have claimed a de minimis payment in the last two years, it'll be deducted from the €15,000 available in aid and lessen the money they'll receive. We need clarity on that point," he said.

Farmers in the west urged to plan ahead on fodder needs

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