Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Thousands of farmers remain on flood alert

Estimated 40,000ac under water as more downpours forecast

Athlone has been badly hit by flooding
Athlone has been badly hit by flooding

Darragh McCullough and Wayne O'Connor

Thousands of farmers remain on alert as flood waters continued to rise yesterday, and further heavy downpours are forecast for the southwest.

Heavy rain in the western half of the country yesterday saw rivers rise another inch, and the total area flooded increase beyond the estimated 40,000ac that was under water at the weekend.

A task force involving all the main farm organisations, advisors, vets, and the Department of Agriculture met near Athlone yesterday to coordinate a series of measures, including setting up a helpline (076-1064408).

The latest update from Teagasc indicates that 700 farmers have been directly affected by flooding with many more at risk.

Part of the Teagasc support package will include farm visits by specialist staff for the worst affected farmers.

IFA spokesman Tom Turley said that a bigger relief fund than the one announced last week was required to help farmers offset the cost of damage to their buildings and loss of fodder.

He also demanded that a single authority manage the rivers, and that flood-relief projects still at planning stage such as those in south Galway and Bandon, Co Cork be fast-tracked.


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Most of the assistance to affected farmers has come from within local communities, with additional fodder being donated from further afield through social media forums.

Clareman Brian Killeen said that the road to his beef farm was flooded, despite the farm being located one mile from the Shannon and the access route being raised by 14 inches last summer. "We can get in and out in the tractor but if it gets any worse we won't even be able to do that," the Clonlara farmer told the Farming Independent.

Mr Killeen added that the flooding was also taking a social toll. "My father is a widower and lives on his own and now he is cut off so it is lonely for him," he said.

His cattle were dry in the shed, but the ongoing situation was making it very difficult to tend to them. "I hope I won't need a vet in the middle of the night since nobody will travel out here," he said.

His winter breeding programme using the local AI man has also suffered.

"It is only a small thing compared to people's houses being flooded but all the small things add up," he added.

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