More bad weather forces stock indoors — poor outlook for farming
By JIM CARNEY
FROM BAD to worse. Farmers’ income took another big hit in the past week as bad weather continued to make life difficult down on the farm. Large numbers of stock have been re-housed and feed bills are up, while output is down.
The I.F.A. say that across all sectors (dairy, beef, tillage and sheep) over the last five weeks there’s been a “hit” of an estimated €100 million countrywide, mainly due to higher feed costs and a loss of output.
National I.F.A. president John Bryan says: “No improvement from week to week, adding to the impact on farm income. And extra feed will have to be bought in next winter to supplement silage, at a cost of over €60 million.
“The heavy rainfall since the beginning of June, with some parts of the country experiencing four times the average level of rainfall, has caused major difficulties with silage harvesting. Only one-third of the crop has been saved, which is a very unusual situation for farmers at the beginning of July. This delay, and the poor quality of what has been saved, will have very serious implications for next winter, as adequate feed supplies will be critical for the expanding national herd.”
The I.F.A. are urging their members to avail of the clinics set up by Teagasc to advise farmers on how to deal with the problems associated with the bad weather.
The tillage and horticulture sectors are also under pressure because of the high levels of rainfall and humidity, at what is a crucial stage in crop development.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney is being lobbied by the I.F.A. to secure an advance of 50 per cent on the Single Farm Payment for the middle of October, and to ensure the full payout of Disadvantaged Area payments in September. “The Minister has an opportunity to improve cashflow for farm families and provide some certainty in meeting credit deadlines,” says an I.F.A. spokesman.
Michael Flynn, Co. Galway I.F.A. chairman, said this week that controversial cuts to farm schemes are adding hugely to farmers’ current difficulties. “No other sector has taken the severe cutbacks that agriculture has had to face in recent years,” Mr Flynn adds. “These cuts have had a devastating effect on low-income farmers and on the rural economy.”
The loss of REPS 3 to low-income farmers has meant that many are left without an agri-environment scheme for the first time in 15 years.
Ambrose McDonagh, Co. Galway I.F.A. rural development spokesman, says Minister Coveney’s suggestion of a limited scheme will not be acceptable, stating: “He must use the savings from REPS 3 as well as future savings from the end of REPS 4 contracts to put in place a scheme which will impact positively on farm income.”