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Fermanagh farmers face crisis after weeks of rain

Farmers

FERMANAGH farmers are facing an impending crisis and need a full month of dry weather if they are to have enough feed to last the winter.
Local chairman of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association, Pat McGrade, told the Herald our wet summer meant Fermanagh farmers were facing a painful winter ahead if the weather didn’t improve soon.
In fact, he said an entire month with little to no rain was needed now if farmers were to avoid a similar catastrophe as seen four winters ago.
Fellow farmer, Cllr John Coyle, said the consequences of the wet summer could be “disastrous.”
“Farmers are already diving into their first cut of silage because the wet month of August has the ground conditions so that you can’t cut the second cut,” he said. “You can’t even let cattle into fields because they will compact it and plough it up.
“It may be all right now because people have forage, but in another few months it could be an absolute disaster. Where are they supposed to buy forage, silage and hay, to feed their animals if they can’t get it cut now?”
Cllr Coyle said farmers needed Stormont up and running to help them through what looks likely to be a bleak winter, a sentiment echoed by another farmer, Cllr Paul Robinson.
“I think we need to continually assess the situation and use what tools we have at our disposal to help farmers,” said Cllr Robinson. “If farmers feel they are short of forage, now is the time to take steps to address this. We also need to keep a close eye on the weather in relation to slurry spreading and if the weather doesn’t take up options will have to be assessed.
Cllr Sheamus Greene said the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) needed to access EU hardship funding to help Fermanagh’s farmers.
“There is now a crisis within the farming community which needs some leadership from DAERA,” he said.
“In previous times when we had summers like this the Department of Agriculture would release hardship funding so that farmers could buy winter feed for their livestock. If this doesn’t happen I fear that some farmers will be put out of business.”


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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA