Farming in Crisis - ‘IT’S A DISASTER’

Newtoncunningham farmer Keith Roulston.  (2408JB70)
Newtoncunningham farmer Keith Roulston. (2408JB70)
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Inishowen farming is in the worst crisis in a generation and unless there is a massive turnabout in the coming weeks many farmers could go to the wall.

Former Donegal IFA chief, Keith Roulston said in his 30 years in farming he has never seen anyting like it.

Speaking with the ‘Journal’ earlier this week the Netowncunnigham based farmer said: “In the 30 years I have been farming this is the worst summer ever - I have never had to feed animals in June and July in my life before.

“Normally, the animals should be out feeding off the lush grass in the fields but there’s no growth at all.

“Indeed, there has been no summer - just rain.”

Mr. Roulston said the situation was extremely bleak and it wasn’t, he explained, a case of the farming community crying wolf.

“I went to Holland on June 5th and I came back on June 15th - it has, basically, rained solidly since.

“The weather has been hot, humid and wet and it has destroyed the chance of a good crop.

“The diesease levels are way up and the yield is way, way down.

“Leaving aside the crops, we have had to keep animals indoors from mid June until now.

“Because of the continuous rain in July the grass has stopped growing, and the fields are bogging.”

The former farming boss said the first cut of silage that he would normally not have to touch until near the end of October is already quarter gone because he has had to feed his animals indoors.

“The financial implications are enormous - I’m looking at a cost of 50/60,000 euro just to keep on an even keel.Everyone is in the same boat except they are so busy they haven’t even thought of the bills yet.”

Mr Roulston said we were not alone either. Weather problems, particularly drought, was hitting the world’s bread basket, the American mid west.

How was that affecting farmers here?

“The cost of soya bean feedstuff just a few months ago was about 250 euro a ton - now it is 599 euro. There was a lorry carrying a bulk of it the other day and it would have needed a garda escort; it was carrying a cargo more valuable that most Securicor vans.”

And the costs are not declining any. “I have had to try to buy in straw. We had to contact a guy away in Carlow to get a supply. But the lorry driver has to even check each bale that will be put on his lorry - if it is too wet by the time he reaches here it would be set like concrete.”

“I have also had to buy 60 acres of barley from a neighbour. That’s a cost that no one could have ever factored in either.

“While cattle made good prices earlier in the year what profit was made then has now been totally eaten up by the weather.”

Mr Roulston concluded: “This is the worst summer ever. Full stop.”