What does the heatwave have to do with my food?

Now we know: With little or no grass growing, food prices are set to rise

While most of us have been enjoying the recent heatwave, farmers around the country have been hoping for much-needed rain. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

While most of us have been enjoying the recent heatwave, farmers around the country have been hoping for much-needed rain. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

Not to rain on your parade, but not everyone has been getting the benefits of the almost unprecedented series of heatwaves and sunshine we’ve been experiencing this summer. Farmers around the country have been searching the sky, holding out hope for the appearance of rain clouds. With little to no grass growing in the hot weather, stores of winter fodder have already been used up, leaving many pastoral farmers unsure of how they’ll be able to feed their livestock in the coming months.

It’s actually not all the sun’s fault; it’s just the most recent straw in a serious of climate catastrophes to have hit the farming community in the last 12 months. Last year’s cold and wet summer impacted the amount of grass grown, as did the snow and frosty spell earlier this year. The drought of this summer has added to farmers’ reliance on fodder, which is dried hay or feed, meaning they’ve had to use up stores usually saved for the winter months.

Instead of giving out about the rain spoiling our sun-kissed summer bliss, spare a thought for the farmers around the country

PJ Ryan is production manager for Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers, which has been owned and operated by the Grubb family since 1984. Their internationally renowned cheese, Cashel Blue, is produced on a working farm outside Fethard in Co Tipperary, where their herd of 150 cows graze on fields around the family’s farmhouse and cheese factory. They purchase all the cow’s milk they use for their production from farms within a 20km radius of the farmhouse, as well as sheep’s milk from two local farmers for their Crozier Blue sheep’s milk cheese.

‘Critical state’

“The drought we’ve been experiencing in Ireland is at a critical state,” Ryan says. “Farmers are at the end of their tether. They’re waking up to find sun-burnt grass on their fields and nothing to feed their cows. Many farmers have already been using their stored banks of winter fodder, which will have a serious impact at the end of this year and into next year.”

Ryan, and many other farmers in his position or similar, predicts that milk prices will rise alongside the prices of grain, which will inevitably have a knock-on effect on how much our everyday goods of Irish milk, bread and cheese will cost us on our weekly shopping trip.

The recent spell of downpours have come as a welcome relief to farmers around the country. So, instead of giving out about the rain spoiling our sun-kissed summer bliss, spare a thought for the farmers around the country who will be deeply relieved to see its return.

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