'Farmers losing three or four cattle in places'
FARMERS are praying the dry weather forecast for the week will see an end to the crisis as co-ops, marts, the IFA, Kerry Group and other agencies continue importing feed from as far as the UK and France.
In Cahersiveen Mart, four more loads are expected on Thursday and manager Michael Kissane hopes this will mark the totality of importations for the company. The Mart has already imported 16 loads, since it initiated its emergency response operations on April 26 last.
"It's is so bad that farmers are losing three or four cattle in places and I know that as a fact," Mr Kissane said. "The bigger picture is an atmosphere of doom and gloom with the emotional stress people are under. It's just frightening to see it and lads are even now struggling to find the money to pay for the feed."
Thankfully the Mart is covered by Government subsidy and farmers are getting rebates via the Mart as soon as the money is couped.
Cahersiveen is sourcing its high-quality hay from the Anglia and Guilford regions of the UK and is selling it at cost to farmers in south Kerry. What the Mart is bringing in is supplying a vast area, from Glencar to Kells and Castlecove.
"By Thursday we will have 20 loads brought in and we would expect that to be the end of it.
"It's all excellent quality and costing us £122.50 per tonne, with haulage costs at €1,650 to €1,850 per load and between thirty and fifty bales per load.
"It is costing farmers between €65 and €135 per bale depending on size," Mr Kissane explained.
The IFA meanwhile are mounting pressure on the State to secure enough winter fodder and recover the losses incurred during the crisis.
IFA spokesman in Kerry James McCarthy said the forecast for the weekend should go far in drying out the land, if it proves accurate.
IFA national President John Bryan has called on the Government to take action to support farmers.
"€9bn in exports and 300,000 jobs depend on farming. Government action now to support the sector would pay huge dividends by maintaining production levels, especially in the heavier soils and in vulnerable sectors, where farm families are being worst affected," he said.