Crisis time for farmers

Eamonn McFadden

Reporter:

Eamonn McFadden

Potato crop wiped out; forced to burn rain sodden straw crop

Potato crop wiped out; forced to burn rain sodden straw crop

IFA boss, John Bryan, heard moving testimonies from farmers who have had their potato crops wiped out and have been left with no option but to burn valuable straw - destroyed by incessant heavy rainfall.

A number of local speakers who the IFA leader at Tuesday night’s Donegal IFA AGM in Letterkenny asked him to lobby government leaders for compensation.

Dolores Hunter said all along the Finn Valley “atrocious” weather had left many farm families in difficult situations. After investing in their crops they will now see a poor return on them, she warned.

“We had to burn all our straw in the last few days and the potatoes are wiped out as well. I think predominantly it has been the North West that has been affected,” she stated.

She said this was a “huge cost” on farmers.

“Up here we are always at the bottom. I ask the committee, chairman and John (Bryan) could they do something for us here in Donegal? I know things are tight for many people, but it is tight for farmers too,” she said before receiving a round of applause from the large audience.

Donegal IFA Potato committee representative, Charlie Doherty also painted a bleak picture, saying much of this year’s crop was still not taken from the ground due to the wet weather. He also urged Mr Bryan to act to “outlaw below cost selling”.

Mr Bryan said it was unlikely a compensation package would be made available. If it did, he said it would be taken from another sector of the already stretched agriculture budget.

“We have been let down by the politicians, but there is nothing we can do about the weather. It has hit some people hard. Maybe we can look at some kind of hardship scheme, but it will be taken off somewhere else and it won’t be off the hospitals or schools. It will be from agriculture,” he stated.