BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER
MERCHANTS, co-ops and financial institutions have been asked to show ‘patience and flexibility’ to farmers enduring their longest and ‘hungriest’ winters for decades with grass growth having completely stalled over the past fortnight due to the biting cold.
The Galway fodder crisis is at its most acute in the Shannon Callows area where many farmers have had to house cattle since last August, due to persistent rains leading to large tracts of land being flooded.
This week, IFA leader and Shannon Callows farmer Michael Silke, said that many farmers in this area were facing into one of their toughest Springs in living memory with ‘no silage, no grass and inflated meal bills’.
“Many farmers are in severe financial trouble and the one thing I would ask this Spring is for the merchants and the co-ops to take into account the awful situation these people find themselves in.
“Those are farmers with an immaculate credit record but every bob they have has been spent over the past six months in buying silage, hay, straw and meal. They will just need time to get back on their feet,” said Michael Silke.
A secondary problem with the feed and fodder crisis, he said, was in relation to suckler cows who just were thinner than previous years due both to the quantity and quality of the silage that was available for the past six months.
“There isn’t a bale of silage to be had anywhere across East Galway and into the Midlands. This is definitely the worst situation that we have faced in terms of farmers trying to feed their stock – we needed an ‘early Spring’ but the biting cold of recent weeks has completely stalled growth,” said Michael Silke.
With soil temperatures well below the minimum growth figure of 6° Celsius – and likely to remain so over the coming seven days – the prospects for grass growth remain poor into the first third of April at least.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.