IFA warns that potato farmers are facing ruin


FARMING:POTATO FARMERS are facing ruin because of the freezing conditions which have followed the heavy rain in November, the Irish Farmers’ Association has claimed.

The IFA estimates that 20 per cent of last year’s potato crop will not be recovered, leading to losses of €15 million.

Between 25 per cent and 30 per cent of the crop was still in the ground when torrential November rain made it impossible to harvest. The ground had hardly dried out by the time the intense cold set in during the middle of December.

About three-quarters of those potatoes are lying less than six inches under the ground, meaning they will have frozen and be rendered useless.

IFA national potato committee chairman Thomas Carpenter said 6,000 acres of potatoes across the country remain unharvested.

He described the situation as a “wipeout” for farmers, who already have to contend with low prices for their produce and the high cost of harvesting what had been salvaged in the autumn.

“You’re looking at the month of March before you can go back into the field, but there will be people who will not be able to plant potatoes this year because of the losses that have been incurred,” he said.