THE UNPRECEDENTED wet weather in June and July has left many Limerick farmers facing “the worst crisis” in living memory, a local councillor believes.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Liam Galvin, who is a farmer himself, said that the financial strain of keeping cattle inside, feeding them winter rations and the inability to make silage could be “crippling” for farmers unless urgent action is taken.
Last week, the European Commission agreed to allow farmers to receive half of their single farm payment in October, instead of December, as a result of the difficult weather conditions. However Cllr Galvin said that for some farmers, particularly in rural West Limerick, this may not be enough.
“This is the worst crisis in agriculture in many a year. There are cattle that are going to go hungry if there isn’t help given as soon as possible.
“I’m urging the Minister for Agriculture to come to West Limerick and see for himself just how bad things are. I’ll have no problem giving him a tour and introducing him to some farmers who are having a desperate time of it”.
The Commission’s decision to advance 50% of the single farm payment, an estimated €650 million, still falls short of the 70% advance which Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney had sought for Irish farmers.
Cllr Galvin said that it was crucial that the Minister continue to lobby for Irish farmers to ensure that the payments are made promptly.
Cllr Galvin said that the “incredible situation” caused by heavy rain in June and July has placed serious strain on many Limerick farmers.
“There are farmers who’ve had their cattle inside for the last five weeks. Not alone do they not have any silage, but their winter feed is nearly all eaten.
“A neighbour of mine went to cut silage last week, and his land ended up torn asunder. He’s going to have to get a track machine in to fill in all the holes.”
Cllr Galvin added that farmers’ ability to earn a livelihood is also dwindling, with cattle prices falling to as low as €200 per head, while the price of feed ration rises to €300 per tonne.