Co-ordinated response needed as drought continues

Leitrim Observer Reporter

Reporter:

Leitrim Observer Reporter

Kilkenny sees sunshine at last

The good weather of the past month has led to increased pressure on water supplies and farmers.

With no rain expected this week, pressures at farm level are growing by the day and it now requires a co-ordinated response from all stakeholders in the industry said ICMSA President, Pat McCormack.
The farming leader warned that, to ensure that farmers can get through what is already an extremely difficult and stressful period specific actions must be taken.
Our processors of milk, beef and all other farm products must pay the maximum possible price for the produce and they cannot be allowed to take advantage of the current pressures on farmers.
Mr McCormack said current milk prices paid to farmers demonstrably lagged market returns and need to move upwards.
“With reports that feed orders are taking over a week for delivery, the driver regulations for delivery of feed should be temporarily amended in line with the regulation for milk collection to ensure that feed can be delivered on time to farmers,” he added.
Mr McCormack said this is a hugely important issue that had been addressed in the Spring period and should be repeated now.
The availability of water is becoming a critical issue for some farmers and Irish Water will have to make water available to farmers where required. In addition, other relevant state agencies must facilitate farmers in securing water supplies where required, he said.
The ICMSA leader stressed the importance of extending the spreading period beyond September 15 adding that while this is a number of months away, the decision should be taken now so that farmers can make fertiliser decisions based on any extension.
He also said the GLAS rules need to be amended particularly in relation to species-rich grassland and traditional hay meadows to allow farmers spread additional fertiliser to grow grass.
“Depending on weather conditions between now and the end of the year, farmers could be facing an unprecedented fodder crisis in winter 2018/19 and Department schemes must not hinder farmers from growing additional fodder at this time in the interest of farmer and animal welfare,” he argued.
The ICMSA leader said the Brexit Loan Scheme for farmers should be introduced without any further delay as cashflow pressures are building at farm level.
“The financial institutions need to play their part and allow loan restructuring without penalty where required,” he added.
He called on the Department of Agriculture to establish a helpline for farmers affected by drought and point them in the appropriate direction for assistance.
Concluding, Mr McCormack said that the current period is extremely worrying for farmers and specific actions need to be taken immediately.