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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 26 January, 2020
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Call for helpline to be set up for distressed farmers

Éamon Ó Cuív has said that a helpline needs to be set up for farmers who are distressed due to poor weather and its effect on their livelihoods.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

BAD WEATHER CONDITIONS this summer are leaving farmers distressed – and a helpline should be set up to offer them advice, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD has said.

Poor weather conditions

He has called on Minister Simon Coveney to direct his department and Teagasc to immediately set up a helpline for the farmers who are in distress due to the poor weather conditions this summer.

Deputy Ó Cuív said that every day he is contacted by farmers and farm organisations “concerned about the effect the terrible summer is having on farmers’ mental health and the need for emergency action and support”.

Farmers have failed to make any quality silage this year because of flooded fields, failed crops and farmers having to feed silage and extra concentrates in the middle of summer. Many farmers have been forced to house their cattle for long periods with all the associated costs. Unfortunately, farmers are also facing the double whammy of huge increases in the costs of concentrates and diesel. Many of them are at breaking point and unfortunately some are gone beyond breaking point.

He said it has been “a very cruel summer for thousands of farmers throughout the country, especially those in the south”.

The constant rain has meant that farmers also face penalties and fines under various schemes for non-compliance due to the weather. No instruction has been given to inspectors to take the weather into account in deciding compliance with agricultural schemes.

Adapt

Deputy Ó Cuív said that officials from the Department of Agriculture and Teagasc “need to adapt to the huge problems facing farmers and act accordingly”.

He suggested that the Minister needs to ensure inspectors from his Department and officials from Teagasc are directed to drop their routine work and travel the country to assess damage from the weather, and should meet with farmers.

A special helpline dedicated to farmers is also something that needs to be provided. Many farmers are in severe distress about the extent of what has happened this summer, along with cuts to Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) and AEOS.
There was an ad recently in the Farmer’s Journal reminding farmers to reseed. As one farmer said in frustration, “the only way of reseeding in many parts of the south would be by helicopter”, as the land is soaked.

The helpline should offer emotional support and advice on the extreme effects this bad weather is having on farmers and their families, said the TD.

Deputy Ó Cuív added that the Minister should also draw up a series of measures to deal with the crisis and announce them immediately to give reassurance and hope to the farming community

Irish Farmers’ Association

IFA Farm Family Chair Margaret Healy believes the bad weather this summer has increased stress levels among farmers and heightened the risk of accidents.

She said:

Farm work is being carried out in adverse conditions and farmers are rushing to get certain jobs done when rain gives way to dry spells.  IFA is urging farmers to maintain a high level of vigilance on farm safety at all times to minimise the risk of accidents.

The IFA is promoting a ‘Think Safety-Farm Safely’ campaign throughout the country, which is focused on the awareness, promotion and education of farm safety.  The IFA Farm Safety leaflet is available on www.IFA.ie.

In July, the IFA told TheJournal.ie that all sectors of farming have had incomes affected due to higher feed costs and a lack of output.

Read: Weather causing problems for farmers>

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