Rain cost farmers €200m, says IFA


THE WET weather conditions have cost farmers more than €200 million this summer, with losses mounting every day, Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan said yesterday.

He said a combination of dreadful weather, soaring input costs and falling prices in some commodities was having a severe impact on farm families.

Teagasc, the farm research and advisory body, has already predicted a 30 per cent drop in farm incomes this year.

Mr Bryan said his organisation surveyed farmers at the recent Tullamore Show and found almost 60 per cent had bought extra animal feed because of the bad weather.

More than 40 per cent said they had rehoused livestock since June 1st, while more than one in four had sold animals earlier than planned. More than 80 per cent of tillage farmers said they expected cereal yields to drop by more than 10 per cent.

Mr Bryan said Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney should stand up for farmers and rule out any further cuts in environmental and other farm schemes.

“Is the Minister going to protect the sector that he was elected to do or is he going to roll with the ball?” he asked.

“Minister Coveney must make protection for funding of farm schemes a red-line issue in this budget.”

He said the Government had presided over cuts in farm schemes of 17 per cent this year, “which is almost three times the 6 per cent cut applied across the entire agriculture budget, and far in excess of the 3.5 per cent cut taken across all Government departments”.

Mr Bryan was speaking at a media briefing held to coincide with the Dublin Horse Show. It was the second day of the show, which drew large crowds, as the good weather held for most of the day.

He welcomed the news that the RDS had commissioned a feasibility study to see whether the Spring Show should be revived. The agricultural show was a stalwart of the farming calendar before it ended 20 years ago.

Mr Bryan said bringing farming back to the city was an excellent concept. A similar show was held in Paris every year and attracted millions of visitors.

“It’s a great showcase for agriculture. It’s an education for non-farming people. I think it would be an excellent step for the people of Dublin to see farms and agriculture and for farmers to come up and enjoy the city.”

The IFA president also said it would be “total discrimination” to include farm assets when assessing eligibility for third-level grants. A review of how eligibility for third-level grants is assessed is expected to be published next month.

He said farmers were more than happy to deal with the current means test “but the idea of looking at assets is disproportionate . . . It would be an absolute discrimination.” He said it would result in children of medium-sized farms being deprived of the right to go to college.

“As I’ve said, 60 per cent of farmers are not eligible for college grants anyway because of income, so for the 40 per cent that are, it would be a disgrace to deprive them of it. My two children went to college and didn’t get the grants but for those people who need them, [including farm assets] would be absolute discrimination against lower-income farmers.”

The highlight of today’s events at the RDS is the FEI Nations Cup. President Michael D Higgins will attend as Ireland bids to win the Aga Khan trophy for the first time since 2004.