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Thursday 19 April 2018

Farmers can't save for rainy day when every day is a deluge

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

IT IS the time of year when farming should be a joy, but it has turned into hard graft for thousands of farmers struggling to cope with the appalling weather.

What's normal practice for February has become the routine for July, as farmers are forced to house their livestock and provide expensive supplements for their diet.

The brunt of the financial cost will be borne solely by farmers, as the price of their produce is set regardless of the increase in inputs.

Patrick O'Connor, from Ballyhar, Co Kerry, is feeding his 40 dairy cows one bail of silage every morning as well as supplements, which has pushed up his costs by at least €125 per day.

Mr O'Connor says farmers are feeling the stress of what has become a most challenging summer. "After one week you'd hope the weather would clear a bit, but it just seems to be dragging on," he told the Irish Independent.

"Every year you'd get some window of good weather where you'd save hay in June, but that hasn't happened this year and you would scarcely have made silage."

Added to the extra price of feeding their animals, farmers are also coping with weather-related medical problems such as lameness, and with its associated extra veterinary costs.

"Everyone is just trying to get to tomorrow in the hope that the weather will turn.

"The one thing is that everyone is in the same boat ,which is some consolation," he said.


Even the 'sunny southeast' is not immune. John Robinson from Callan, Co Kilkenny, said he has not got around to cutting his silage yet, a job that is normally completed in June.

He says farmers with drier land than his are having to house their animals, something that is unheard of in the area.

In Ballina, Co Mayo, John O'Donnell, like his neighbours, is counting the cost of extra production costs coupled with falling milk prices.

"It's been a horrific few weeks. Grass quality and availability is the problem. The grass is just not there and what is there is too watery," he said.

The brunt of the losses will have to be borne by farmers, and farming organisations are calling for a 50pc advance on October's Single Farm Payment.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association has called on the milk processors to factor in the weather in the prices it pays to farmers, which have dropped by 5c to 6c a litre in the past three months.

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Irish Independent

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