Friday 18 January 2019

Crisis taking its toll on farmers

Wicklow farming community caught up in national fodder crisis

Deborah Coleman

There is no doubt that the farming community is in a 'very deep crisis' which is taking its toll on its members and, according to Wicklow IFA chairperson Chris Hill, the fodder crisis has almost certainly pushed some 'close to tipping point'.

'There is definitely an element of psychological stress involved which will push farmers close to tipping point. It is a huge struggle and the bills keen building up and have to be paid one way or another,' said Mr Hill.

He explained that nobody could have anticipated not having animals out to graze in the second week of April, yet this is the reality for many farmers in County Wicklow and neighbouring counties.

'There are pockets of the county where farmers have a reasonable buffer in terms of stock but others are close to zero.

'As a result, they have to buy in more and transport it up to 20 miles to their farms, while all the time racking up more bills. Dairy cows in particular have to be well fed and what many are doing now is simply maintaining their animals. This is itself is hugely stressful,' Mr Hill adds.

The 'unending winter' experienced over the past seven months has left farmers in turmoil, with little ploughing and few crops sown compared with other years when growth would be well under way by now.

'When the spring crops are planted later, the yield is lower. This extra long winter will have huge repercussions for the year ahead as farmers struggle to build up their reserves on top of harvesting enough for the months ahead,' he added.

Mr Hill said that while the stress of this unprecedented situation is undoubtedly very stressful for farmers, many are trying to keep positive and to keep going as best they can.

'We have to try and look forward. It has felt like an unending winter but we are hopeful that the weather will pick up and we can regain some ground and get plenty of work done,' said Mr Hill.

Wicklow People