IFA President Joe Healy said he was shocked to see the conditions under which large numbers of Donegal farmers are being forced to operate due to persistent and ongoing rainfall over the summer.
Joe Healy was speaking last week, following his first official visit to Donegal since he was elected President of the Association in March. He visited farms in Ballintra and Dunkineely where ground is so water-logged farmers have found it impossible to cut silage or graze cattle.
"The situation is very bad in many parts of Donegal at the moment and the reality is that unless we see some drier weather, we could be heading for a crisis in the sector," said Mr Healy. "I am concerned about the number of farmers who are having to house cattle at this time of the year. However, I can see for myself that ground conditions are so bad, it's just not possible to let them out."
On one farm the President visited, diggers were busy repairing damage to the soil caused in an attempt to cut silage in recent weeks. "If the weather doesn't improve, this is going to be a major issue. It is placing enormous strain on many of our members at a time when they are already being impacted by poor prices and rising overheads," Joe Healy said.
Mr Healy was joined on the visits by local farmers and IFA officers along with Donegal Chairman, Michael Chance who stated: "The President has been very receptive to concerns about the impact ground conditions are having on a number of farms in the county.” He hopes the visit will result in additional supports for farmers here, he added.
Mr Chance said the pressures are affecting some farmers' mental health. “It's easy sometimes to cope with single issues but when there's a combination of issues it can put farmers under extreme pressure. You have to consider the impact that is having on people’s mental health. It’s a very difficult situation to be in.”
Geoffrey McClay, a farmer in Murvagh, told the Democrat, “Farmers are facing a double hit withlow prices and bad weather. Last year was poor but a dry September saved us. It doesn't look like that will happen this year. A lot of farmers are in a seriously bad situation.”