Farm Ireland
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Wednesday 14 November 2018

Farmers cancelling holidays to battle the fodder crisis

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Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farmers are cancelling their holidays and some are not even able to attend weddings due to the current fodder and drought pressures forcing them to stay on farm.

The Farm Relief Service (FRS) reported increased cancellations and less demand for operators this summer due to drought pressure forcing dairy farmers to cancel bookings.

While FRS CEO Peter Byrne told the Farming Independent that the cases of cancellations are difficult to quantify, he said that he has definitely noticed a marked increase in farmers cancelling holiday and wedding cover that they had pre-booked with the FRS.

"Situations have become apparent where people couldn't go to weddings and go on holidays and things like that as they felt, given the current crisis, that they needed to be hands-on on the farm. It certainly has had an impact on us but it is very difficult to quantify.

"Financial impacts of weather mean farmers had to cut overheads and there was less demand for operators."

FRS south midlands manager Kate Fogarty who is in charge of north Tipperary, Laois and Offaly areas also said that she has seen numerous cases where farmers had FRS operators booked in but, due to issues with fodder and water, that they had to cancel.

"A number of farmers cancelled holidays last minute because they were waiting to see what would happen with the weather. Farmers are afraid to leave their farm because even though they had someone booked in for milking in the morning and evening, they were worried because they'd have someone booked in to do the milking but nobody there to monitor during the day if there were issues with water," she said.

Labour shortage

The drop in demand for farm labour has seen workers move into other sectors such as construction this summer which Ms Fogarty warned could lead to a labour shortage next spring."Guys we had left us for other work. These guys are dependent on us for an income because they're all self-employed and can't be waiting around for work. They're paid by the hour and rely totally on us," she said.

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"If you take a guy aged 45 who works for us - if a farmer cancels on him he's not able to go on holidays then. This will definitely impact on us in the spring as we couldn't provide work for these people and they have gone elsewhere."

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