By Rebecca McGirr
AS the conflict in Ukraine continues to exacerbate the cost of living crisis and lead to a surge in prices, farmers are struggling to keep their feet on the ground.
SDLP Councillor and farmer John Coyle said, ‘For one tonne of fertiliser it is now priced at £950, the normal price would have been about £255 a tonne, so that is colossal. ‘
Due to the conflict in Ukraine, the cost of fertiliser first rose in response to the increase in wholesale gas prices because of the levels of energy needed for production.
Farmers are also being affected by the rise in the price of animal feed, red diesel and energy costs.
‘Prices are rising on a daily basis,’ said Sinn Fein Councillor and farmer Anthony Feely. ‘It’s a desperate situation and its not just going to be the cost, its going to be the availability, these things are going to be harder to get.’
‘Farmers have started panic buying, for example buying silage wrap even though they wouldn’t start using it to June. This crisis could also have a long term effect and cause food shortages because if farmers aren’t able to produce now then there is a possibility that certain products are going to become scarce.’
‘Farmers are being hit immensely and because the price of cattle hasn’t gone up enough to compromise and none of our payments are going up, it’s a struggle, its going to put a lot of farmers bankrupt,’ said Councillor Feely.
‘If it doesn’t soon start improving farmers will have no choice but to sell off the stock. They’ll not be able to stick this, they’ll have to sell off the stock and they’ll be selling them at a loss because the prices have started to slip already, the prices have started to come down these last two weeks.’
‘Farmers are not making a lot of money,’ said Councillor Coyle. ‘I, like everybody else, was struggling. I was a full time councillor but I took on another job, I work now in the hospital, I had to take on another job with my farming and with the council because of the cost of everything.
“I have sent a letter to the Minister of Agriculture because something has to be done, farmers need financial assistance, we are in a dire situation.’
Mr Feely who sits on the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Agricultural Liaison Committee said ‘We have discussed this issue and sent a letter to Minister Poots looking for extra money and funding, we are still waiting on a response.’
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