Neville Myles pictured on his farm earlier this year.
One of Donegal's most prominent and respected farmers has warned of “a famine of fodder” as a result of the inordinate amount of rain that has fallen in the North West in the past year.
Neville Myles of Ballyshannon runs one of the top performing farms in the country and has beenrecognised as running one of the greenest of farms in the country by An Bord Bia.
Speaking to the Democrat yesterday Neville said, “I don't want to be seen as an alarmist but we are facing a very grave situation. “It has been a vicious year with practically non stop rain.
“What has exacerbated the situation is that there has been no drying whatsoever with the result that the land is simply saturated. Even if we were to get a good spell of weather now, it would be hard to dry out.
“It's like everything else - if this situation existed in the south of the country or near Dublin there would be all sorts of emergency situations but the powers that be just continue to ignore Donegal.
“The worst affected areas include south Donegal, North Leitrim and North Sligo - we are at crisis level.”
Neville continued, “We have a situation where the grass is still growing and we are still trying to cut silage.
“Suckler farmers are the worst affected and they need to take imediate steps that they have enough fodder. I would estimate that there are 500 acres of second cut to be cut in this area but the feed value of that silage and after grass will be poor.
“It seems to be raining with us when it's not raining with anyone else - the fun has gone out of farming for a lot of people. Neville warned, “We are now banking on an early spring - if we get a late spring next year I'm afraid a lot of farmers could be looking at a very bleak situation.
“I believe that forecasters are predicting a very cold spell within the next few weeks - that might do something to alleviate the situation but it will be minimal.”
“As a result, the price of fodder coming into Donegal has now gone through the roof. A round bale of straw is now fetching €38/40 - this is totally unsustainable.
“The price of cattle is strong at the moment but given the present situation my advice is to sell off stock when the price is good. The winter is going to be a costly period for a lot of farmers.”
Concluding the Ballyshannon man said, “The agri-sector has an effect on the total economy - when the farmers are doing well, everybody thrives but when there is a downturn everybody suffers.
“I would call on the government to come up with a strategy that will address the problems of the farmers in this area. Agriculture is extremely important to us - we cannot stop the rain but we can strive to minimise the effects.”