WEST Cork’s tillage farmers have been dealt a savage financial blow by Storm Ellen and Francis.
This should be the busiest time of the year for cereal harvesting. However, in lots of cases acres of crops are lying damaged and even sprouting in some cases.
Among those hit are Nohoval tillage farmer Ray Quinn who this season had 300 acres to harvest. Before the storm hit, he had harvested 50 acres or so of spring barley, leaving him with almost 90% left to yield.
‘Before the weather hit we were cutting 3.5 tonnes to the acre at 16% moisture. Since the storm, we’re cutting less than 2.5 tonnes to the acre at 23% moisture,’ he explained.
Not only that, the cereal is failing malting barley quality tests, he said, which means it’s only eligible for feed purposes. Prices are at least €30 less a tonne in this scenario.
Ray, who has been a tillage farmer for 25 years, said he was facing the likelihood of his income being down at least 50%. He and other tillage farmers had encountered similar challenges imposed by the weather some years back when the government introduced financial aid, however Ray said it was very difficult to access.
Along with FG Senator Tim Lombard, he’s calling for better financial aids and a new minister for agriculture to be appointed without delay.
‘We’re at the mercy of the weather. If things don’t improve we could lose the lot,’ said Ray.
Senator Lombard has met with Ray and other local tillage farmers who he said are going through a particularly traumatic period.
‘It’s very rare to have a storm of the magnitude of Storm Ellen at this time of the year. We need a new minister for agriculture as soon as possible and funds to compensate them for their financial loss.’