Jimmy Rankin, Carrigans. Photo Clive Wasson
Many grain farmers in Donegal are on the verge of giving up, according to Donegal IFA chairman Michael Chance.
”People are loathe to leave what they are doing, but with it costing more to produce grain than we can get paid for it, the high cost of credit, and especially with the bad weather this year, people are really questioning whether they should continue,” he told the DD/DPP.
Farmers have been losing on average €25 per tonne for the last three years; the introduction of tariffs on grains imported from outside the EU would be a big help, he said.
“And because of the horrendous weather, farmers need to be able to get extensions on their credit. Around 70 per cent of the spring crop still has to be cut in Donegal and there's no sign of drier weather.
“Credit is a big problem," he said. "In Europe the rate is 1-2 per cent for long term loans, here it's 5-6 per cent.
Jimmy Rankin, a grain farmer in Carrigans, agreed. "I don't like putting farmers across as criers but things are really tough. Grain prices are on the floor. Market prices are what they are and I know everyone, no matter what they do, is under pressure. But the bad weather is making it worse.”
“And we are getting hammered on bank rates. I have friends in the UK who are paying 4 per cent on their overdrafts but here it's 8 per cent and we're being told it's a great rate.”
Peter Lynch, who has 210 acres in Newtowncunningham and also does contract work, summed it up. “Everything is wrong. Ground conditions are as poor as I've ever seen and this is the worst harvest I can remember.
“There is still 100 per cent of the spring crop to cut in our contract work. The ground is that wet that it can't support the machines. We need 3-5 days of dry weather be able to get in and cut the spring crop and we can't even think of ploughing for the next crop on our own land.”
In light of the crisis farmers are facing, Donegal IFA hosted a meeting, with speakers Bill Vaughan of Mental Health Ireland and a Teagasc expert on dealing with the fodder shortage, last night in Ballintra.