Farm Ireland

Friday 17 August 2018

Farmers urged to talk to allay depression fears

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom
Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Agri-advisors have raised concerns about the pressures being placed on tillage farmers with the volume of work left to be completed due to the late spring.

Farmers have been urged to put their safety first as they try to get back on track with their planting regimes.

Teagasc advisor George Ramsbottom urged farmers to reach out to each other and talk about their heavy workloads and the financial costs of the harsh winter.

"There is a level of depression at farm level that I wouldn't have seen for a number of years. It has been a long, hard few weeks.

"Basically some people are still in winter mode. There is an awareness that this year is not going to be as good a year as other years," he said.

"But sharing experiences is a great antidote."

Mr Ramsbottom pointed out it was going to be an expensive spring for dairy and livestock farmers with feed levels running far ahead of other years.

"From a profit perspective, difference per day is €2.70 per cow due to delay in turnout," he said.

Feed bills

Merchant credit is also running at higher than usual levels due to the increased feed costs.

Pat Ryan of Liffey Mills said their feed sales were over 30pc ahead of last year, while Michael Slattery of Drummonds pointed out their sales were up by around a fifth so far.

Glanbia said that dairy feed sales were continuing at record levels, with feed mills running 24/7 to try and keep up with demand.

ICMSA dairy chair Gerald Quain said they estimated that a 350,000l milk supplier would be "down a minimum of €10,000 and for many it'll be much more than that through a combination of fodder and feed expenses and the decline in milk volume and constituents".

"We'd be very concerned that this year's silage season will be late and the problem could run on into next winter," he said.

"There's the question, too, of body condition of cows which has declined noticeably in the last month and which will certainly have a negative effect on the upcoming breeding season."

Dairy farmer Michael Guinan of Rahan in Co Offaly estimated that he had spent around €7,000 on extra ration, loose silage, baled silage, maize and soya.

John Bateman of Fedamore in Co Limerick said: "Over the last seven or eight weeks, I've spent €8,000.

"Effectively I'm using the milk income to buy in the meal and there's nothing left over: I'm buying the milk, that's a bad spot to be in for spring milk and I do feel that there will be an increased 'mental bill' for farmers also."

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