Wicklow People - - NEWS - By DEBORAH COLE­MAN

THERE is no doubt that the farm­ing com­mu­nity is in a ‘very deep cri­sis’ which is tak­ing its toll on its mem­bers and, ac­cord­ing to Wick­low IFA chair­per­son Chris Hill, the fod­der cri­sis has al­most cer­tainly pushed some ‘close to tip­ping point’.

‘There is def­i­nitely an el­e­ment of psy­cho­log­i­cal stress in­volved which will push farm­ers close to tip­ping point. It is a huge strug­gle and the bills keen build­ing up and have to be paid one way or an­other,’ said Mr Hill.

He ex­plained that no­body could have an­tic­i­pated not hav­ing an­i­mals out to graze in the sec­ond week of April, yet this is the re­al­ity for many farm­ers in County Wick­low and neigh­bour­ing coun­ties.

‘There are pock­ets of the county where farm­ers have a rea­son­able buf­fer in terms of stock but oth­ers are close to zero.

‘As a re­sult, they have to buy in more and transport it up to 20 miles to their farms, while all the time rack­ing up more bills. Dairy cows in par­tic­u­lar have to be well fed and what many are do­ing now is sim­ply main­tain­ing their an­i­mals. This is it­self is hugely stress­ful,’ Mr Hill adds.

The ‘un­end­ing win­ter’ ex­pe­ri­enced over the past seven months has left farm­ers in tur­moil, with lit­tle plough­ing and few crops sown com­pared with other years when growth would be well un­der way by now.

‘When the spring crops are planted later, the yield is lower. This ex­tra long win­ter will have huge reper­cus­sions for the year ahead as farm­ers strug­gle to build up their re­serves on top of har­vest­ing enough for the months ahead,’ he added.

Mr Hill said that while the stress of this un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion is un­doubt­edly very stress­ful for farm­ers, many are try­ing to keep pos­i­tive and to keep go­ing as best they can.

‘We have to try and look for­ward. It has felt like an un­end­ing win­ter but we are hope­ful that the weather will pick up and we can re­gain some ground and get plenty of work done,’ said Mr Hill.

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