'Forestry is the biggest threat to rural life here'
The Government "better get their skates on" and come up with a workable fodder plan if they want to ensure farmers throughout the country have enough feed for their herds come winter time, warns Shane McHugh, a 29-year-old who farms with his father Gerard in Fenagh, Co Leitrim.
Although not badly affected by the summer heatwave at his home place in Knockmullen, Shane has seen the harshest effects of the warm weather as he travels in the south and south-east in his off-farm job as feed development officer and classifier for the Irish Holstein-Friesian Society.
"Everyone is affected by the heat this year, but farmers are badly affected in these regions and the Government should be putting in place an emergency fodder scheme for this winter. We have been lucky here in Leitrim so far and might get a third cut on the home farm, but there will definitely be fodder problems when this heat passes," says Shane.
The 'Knockmullen Holsteins', a 60-strong herd run over 100 owned and leased acres, are averaging 7,200 litres of milk with fats at 3.87pc and proteins at 3.36pc, and the farm supplies Lakeland.
Asked if he is happy with the current co-op milk price, he replies: "The price is okay. It's as good as you are going to get from the co-op at the moment."
Shane is the farmer of the three McHugh siblings, with brother Diarmuid (27) working with a local timber company and sister Shona (23) studying in child care.
He graduated in dairy management from Rease Heath College in Cheshire a few years ago and works the home farm with his dad, and both, in turn, are supervised by Roseanne, the mother of the house.
Weather aside, his most pressing preoccupation at the moment is the imminent arrival of his new child with his partner Imelda - an optical assistant working in Carrick-on-Shannon. The new arrival is due to make his or her bow in a few weeks' time.