BY EMMA CONNOLLY and KIERAN O’MAHONY
THE fodder crisis is now impacting all farmers in West Cork regardless of system and stocking rate and if weather conditions don’t improve dramatically in the coming days, those who are currently scraping by, will join those already in dire straits.
Agri advisors in the four local co-ops – Barryroe, Lisavaird, Bandon and Drinagh – are working around the clock to source emergency supplies from around the country as well as the UK where quality of feed is becoming an issue.
However with both the UK and France experiencing feed shortages of their own, the situation has been declared far worse than the 2013 crisis.
Drinagh Co-Op agri advisor Darren Lynch said they had taken delivery of 18 loads of feed since last Wednesday, mainly from the Leinster region, each carrying between 40 and 70 bales, while their Drinagh Mill was flat out with forage-stretching ration.
‘We’re sourcing more supplies every hour,’ he said.
Scott Lovell, Barryroe Co-Op agri manager, said: ‘At the moment you’ve a small number of suppliers in trouble; more on the borderline and more fine, but if conditions don’t improve, everyone moves into a different category.’
General manager at Lisavaird, Pat Moriarty agreed the majority of their suppliers had enough fodder for this week, adding that things ‘have to improve.’
Agri trading manager at Bandon Co-Op, Denis O’Mullane agreed if things didn’t improve in the next week the situation would become ‘dire.’
All co-ops say they are committed to passing on emergency supplies at cost price in a bid to support already stretched suppliers.
Meanwhile, the crisis was discussed for 45 minutes at a meeting of the county council earlier this week where Mayor Declan Hurley, a Dunmanway based dairy farmer, seconded a motion calling for a hardship fund to be set up.
He described the situation as a ‘total system failure from top to bottom.’
‘Everyone is at fault and it shouldn’t have happened but we have had the longest winter in place for a time,’ said Cllr Hurley.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said he had met with farmers in West Cork who are in dire straits and that some had claimed to him that the fodder coming in was rotten.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said he was fearful that this could signal a farming crash similar to what happened the building industry during the recession.
‘It’s a bleak time but the focus now is to stand in solidarity with farmers. We cannot endanger the reputation of our food industry.
‘Once the crisis is over we need a discussion on this and we’ve got to make sure that farming is sustainable,’ he said.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) felt that the Minister had due warning about the crisis and that the delay in acting had worsened the situation.
‘Weather is of course the problem and this undue stress on farmers is causing mental health issues with farmers,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said farmers across the region were literally at the end of their tether.