IFA President Joe Healy said the findings of a Teagasc survey on the impact of wet weather in the north-west are alarming. Half of farmers surveyed in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal say they have inadequate winter feed and poor ground conditions that have delayed slurry spreading.
Joe Healy said the findings underlined IFA’s case to the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed for a fodder scheme, a crisis fund for tillage growers and flexibility on slurry spreading as part of the five-point plan to assist farmers affected by the wet weather.
More than 370 farms from Donegal to Cork are affected, with 4,500 hectares of crops still to be harvested. Teagasc identified Donegal and west Cork as two areas that have been particularly badly hit. The report says ‘wet ground conditions and wet crops have seriously impacted on harvesting and yields of crops remaining to be harvested will be reduced by one to two tonnes’.
The Teagasc report says that many farmers had to house cattle and dairy cows and feed silage and meals in August and September due to poor field conditions. Half of livestock farmers in Donegal and 20% of farmers in Mayo have stock housed. Silage cutting was seriously delayed on most farms and the area cut seriously reduced on others. Silage quality is poor on 50-60% of farms.
Joe Healy said farmers are under pressure to carry out slurry spreading, with up to half the farms in the north-west with tanks to be emptied. He said the Department of Agriculture has to treat farmers fairly this winter and ensure that no farmer endures a Basic Payment penalty if they need to take necessary manure management steps during the winter due to animal welfare concerns.
IFA is calling on Teagasc to extend their survey to those other counties which have been impacted by the wet weather.