Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 19 August 2018

'Some farmers were in St John of God hospital after the winter we had'

St. John of God services are provided at the Drumcar campus
St. John of God services are provided at the Drumcar campus

David Looby

Wexford farmers endured serious mental health issues during the fodder crisis leading to at least two being hospitalised, Cllr Pip Breen told a recent crisis meeting in the county.

"I know some farmers who were up in St John of God psychiatric hospital after the winter we had," Cllr Breen told the meeting.

"We are in a crisis. Our biggest problem is that there are four million people in the country and we produce enough for 35m. With Brexit it is putting our products below cost.

"There is residual debt with co-ops, financial, institutions etc that will take years to clear. Minister Creed was totally asleep at the wheel during the crisis. He said if they had stock they should have been feeding them but farmers were under ferocious pressure."

Cllr Breen said Wexford farmers helped farmers in the west and ended up short of fodder.

"We are producing the best food in the world and we are not getting paid for it," he added.

Cllr Michael Sheehan said attracting young people into farming needs to be a priority. He said numerous solar farms are planned for the county, including a 500-acre farm in Clongeen.

"I am opposed to this as it turns land into nothing but a giant mirror."

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At the meeting in the Horse and Hound: Cllr Michael Sheehan, Cllr Jim O’Sullivan, Cllr Michael Whelan, Cllr Pip Breen, Cllr John Fleming and Cllr Lisa McDonald
At the meeting in the Horse and Hound: Cllr Michael Sheehan, Cllr Jim O’Sullivan, Cllr Michael Whelan, Cllr Pip Breen, Cllr John Fleming and Cllr Lisa McDonald

Cllr Michael Whelan said it was very important for the New Ross Ballyculane ceantar to hold a meeting on farming as it is an agricultural area.

He said EU policies are making it tougher to tillage farm.

"Farm succession is the major issue,' he added, saying: 'If we don't stop it places like Ballycullane will disappear. The shop, the post office, the pub - all these are going to disappear if we don't make it feasible for the farmers son or daughter to farm the land with him. It also causes s a huge health and safety issue. If that son is gone off to work the father is there working the farm on his own. It is causing another issue which has come to the fore in recent years. It's something Fianna Fáil should be adopting a policy on."

Former councillor Jimmy Curtis said: "People don't realise the seriousness of the farming situation. It's the longest year I can remember and I'm not a young fella. Two months added cost were added this year and that is not going to be recovered. You are not going to see the effects of it until the next couple of years."

He said ribbon developments in rural areas are vital. "Rural Ireland is more important than any place else."

Cllr Joe Sullivan said the processors and supermarkets are getting the world class profit and the main producer is still at the lower end.

Cllr John Fleming said over half of farmers are aged over 55. He asked if farmers are being paid through their insurance for damage caused to their sheds and said solar farms is a misnomer.

"It's solar anti-farming."

Eileen Furlong of the Rural Social Scheme said at a time when Lidl are selling bags of carrots for 39c it is impossible for farmers to make enough money.

She said mental health and loneliness is a huge issue across the country among farmers.

"There are a lot of farmers in Wexford who are in dire need and who are not asking for help."

Former TD Hugh Byrne said: "It was the longest, coldest, wettest winter I have known. People had to throw their milk out as they had no electricity."

He said the time is for Fianna Fáil to call for action before the industry loses another vital sector, having lost the beet sector in the past.

"The sheep, suckler and tillage sectors are all under pressure. Potato crops are five weeks behind time. Let's form a policy plan that we would recommend nationally that there would be a forum. There are no farmers here tonight because every tractor in the country is red, as they say in the country."

New Ross Standard

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