IFA says rain is taking toll on farmer wellbeing and incomes


THE CONSTANT rain of recent weeks is increasing stress and depression among farmers as they worry about the financial consequences, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association president.

John Bryan said the bad weather was costing farmers as they had to take their cattle indoors and buy feed.

They could not get enough good weather to make silage, and any silage made this year was not expected to be of high quality, Mr Bryan added.

Concerns are also growing over the grain harvest, which is still some weeks away. The rain and lack of sun is affecting crop development, which will delay the harvest.

Mr Bryan said silage contractors were having problems meeting repayments for expensive machinery because they could not get their work done and so had no income. The weather had also affected milk production and fruit and vegetable growers.

“It’s having a huge influence on behaviour, and some lads are letting it get in on them,” Mr Bryan said. “They know the long-term impact on cash flow and they are very worried.”

He added that one of the great pleasures of farming was walking through fields where animals were grazing contentedly, “but now, as soon as you come into the field, the animals are running up and want to get out and move to fresh grass”.

Last week the IFA estimated that the bad weather would cost the sector about €100 million, and he said that figure was increasing with every day of rain.

Mr Bryan said less than 10 per cent of first-cut silage had been harvested around him in Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. Normally at this time of year, the first cut of silage would be finished.

The farm advisory service Teagasc said it was dealing with “huge numbers” of farmers seeking advice on how to deal with poor ground conditions and poor grass utilisation. It ran special clinics last week to help farmers to cope with weather-related problems. Its spokesman Eric Donald said Teagasc was encouraging farmers to call to their local offices for advice.

He said farmers had small windows of opportunity in some areas such as Carlow, where silage was made on Sunday and Monday, but the rain was constant in other parts.

It is the opposite case in the US, where Bloomberg is reporting the worst US drought since the 1980s. It said a heatwave was withering the world’s largest corn crop and that the speed of the damage may spur the government to make a record cut in its July estimate for domestic inventories.

Met Éireann forecast

IT MAY be approaching the middle of July, but the advice from Met Éireann is to leave the rain cover on the barbecue for another while.

More than twice the normal rainfall for this time of year fell over the past seven days and last month was the wettest June on record, according to the weather service.

Met Éireann has predicted another week of unsettled weather with the worst deluges expected from Wednesday night onwards.

The south is expected to bear the brunt of the bad weather. Temperatures will range from about average for this time of year to a degree or two below.

Met Éireann meteorologist Vincent O’Shea said there would be some dry periods today but some heavy showers were also expected.

Maximum temperatures will reach 15 to 18 degrees Celsius in a moderate northwesterly breeze.

Tomorrow is expected to be the best day of the week with some decent sunny breaks. It will still be relatively cool with highs of 14 to 17 degrees but with good drying at times.

Later tomorrow, a band of rain will move into the Cork and Kerry region from the Atlantic and spread countrywide overnight. That band of rain will lie east-west over the country on Thursday, giving further falls of rain.

It is expected to stay dry but cool in northern parts with highs of 11 to 14 degrees in easterly winds.

More rain is expected on Friday.

“There’s no joy for farmers trying to cut silage,” Mr O’Shea said.

Saturday and Sunday will bring bright, fresh conditions with sunny spells and passing showers.

Mr O’Shea added that there was a “glimpse of hope early next week but nothing to write home about. We can’t be confident of that prediction because it is too far away.” ALISON HEALY