FERMANAGH’S farmers are now facing a full blown crisis, with worrying predictions many may be out of business by the end of the winter.
At the beginning of autumn the Herald reported how our wash-out of a summer meant farmers had needed “an entire month of dry weather” to get their cuts in and avoid a catastrophe this winter. As anyone in Fermanagh knows, that did not happen, and now our farmers are facing a season with little or no feed stored for their animals.
Local chairman of the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA), Pat McGrade, said the current situation was unprecedented, with farmers scrambling to cut their silage now even into November.
“Things are still not good. It’s a desperate situation,” he said. “There are a lot of men who didn’t get enough done, a lot of men got next to nothing done. Grass needs to start to heat and ferment to make silage, but I don’t know how it would heat in November.”
Mr McGrade said younger farmers were particularly vulnerable to going under as a result of the current crisis.
“There are men who are cutting down and selling stock, keeping less. When you sell stock it will take some time to build it up again.
“The younger man who can’t afford to stay in it this year is going to sell his stock, and if he sells his stock and spends the money he gets to buy fodder for what stock he keeps, they’ll never be replaced again. It will take years and years to replace them.”
Mr McGrade said there was little could be done to improve the situation, aside from allowing farmers whose lands are currently under inspection by the Department of Agriculture to be allowed to access advance payments of the CAP Single Farm Payment.
Mr McGrade most farmers relied on the payment, and the 70 per cent advance many received in October this year. A total of 22,493 farmers received a CAP payment this year.
Mr McGrade said no replacement of the EU payment post-Brexit had yet been proposed.
When asked if this worried local farmers, he replied: “Not really, because according to a lot of farmers at the minute, they’ll not be farming in two years’ time.”
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Posted: 9:08 am November 12, 2017