ICSA Rural Development Chairman Seamus Sherlock regards the recent adverse weather conditions of Storm Emma and ‘The Beast from the East’ as the worst that he has experienced in his lifetime. Mr. Sherlock acknowledged that it was a difficult experience for the entire nation, but more specifically the farming community, highlighting the action that was actively undertaken in response to the given circumstances.
“Some people would tell you that it is the worse snow that they have ever seen, but one positive thing showed is how rural communities come together and the farming community led the way by clearing roads with tractors and sharing bales of straws and silage.” ICSA Rural Development Chairman Seamus Sherlock told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“People are now starting to realise how farmers get it. We lead a very busy lifestyle and even with that, we are willing to go out and help others aswell.” Mr. Sherlock added.
“Everyone put their shoulder to the wheel; it was a difficult and experience time for farmers. There was a fodder crisis even without this snow.” He said.
“Despite all the warnings, nobody expected what was coming. We were informed that there was going to be falls of snows. I can’t remember it being any worse. Most people prepared the way that they could.”
While the elements took its toll on all farmers in the sector, the Rural Development Chairman of ICSA re-iterated his fears for ageing drystock farmers and he felt that they were trying to do “all that they could on their own as they do not have sufficient help.”
“My biggest problem was that they were on their own, out on treacherous concrete yards with up to six inches of compacted snow. I tried to inform these people to ensure that that they carried a mobile phone at all times or to get a neighbour to call in with them regularly.” Seamus said.
Fodder Crisis Fund
Meanwhile, Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture has called on Minister Michael Creed to rethink his approach to the Fodder Crisis Fund and convene a meeting this week with his officials and farming organisations to discuss the best way to support farmers in the aftermath of the extreme weather conditions which have swept over the country in the past few days.
“Minister Creed was forced to establish a fodder fund for farmers affected by adverse weather last year; however the fund he announced was extremely limited. I am urging him to revise his current position and expand that scheme to include meal vouchers and other payments, given the difficulty that farmers are now in as a result of the current exceptional conditions. Many farmers were already struggling to cope in the face of high fodder prices and they will be put to the pin of their collar as they deal with the current situation.” McConalogue said.
IFA President Joe Healy is today visiting farms in the south-east, which were particularly badly impacted by the effects of Storm Emma. He is joined by IFA South Leinster Regional Chairman Tom Short.
“While the storm itself has moved on, farmers are now coming to terms with the impact of the weather at farm level. This storm came at the worst possible time with calving and lambing in full swing” Joe Healy said
‘In the south-east and parts of Kildare the situation is continuing to be extremely stressful for farmers with huge amounts of snow still on the ground” he said.
The IFA President said farmers are facing very severe damage to their farms and farm buildings as well as losses of stock. In addition, the very poor weather will have a negative impact on grass growth and put pressure on already tight fodder supplies.oe Healy said farmers are worried in relation to sheep on mountains and hills. He said significant difficulties are also arising on lowland farms where farmers were unable to get ewes and newborn lambs out because of the conditions.
The IFA President said many growers in the soft fruit and nursery stock sectors have also been very badly hit by the heavy snowfall, which in cases has caused tunnels and glass houses to collapse, destroying plants.
Clean-up operations are now in force on many farms while deep-lying snow remains in places, with a risk of potential flooding, following the issuing of a status yellow snow-ice warning for Leinster by Met Éireann earlier this morning. It is believed that it will take some time before proceedings will resume to normal following the adverse conditions.