Downpours likely to continue disrupting farming but potential high pressure respite on the way

Minister for Agriculture announces fodder transport support scheme to provide additional aid to livestock farmers most severely affected by weather

Rain is likely for the next 10 days or so, Met Éireann’s chief hydrometeorologist has warned, as farmers face challenging weather conditions.

Eoin Sherlock said there were “tentative signs” that high pressure would develop, resulting in less rainfall towards the end of next week. However, he said at around the end of the month and the start of May the high pressure would move away.

Mr Sherlock was speaking before a meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee, which was focusing on implementing solutions to provide assistance to farmers.

He said the northern half of the country would experience heavy rainfall until Tuesday, April 16th, and it would be “very wet” in parts of Ulster. There would probably be another week and a half of rain before “high pressure kicks in and gives us a bit of respite”.

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Met Éireann climatologist Paul Moore noted that last July had been the wettest on record and since then there had been a “run of very wet months”. He said 2023 was Ireland’s third wettest year on record, behind 2015 and 2009. The first half of the year had been a lot drier than the second half.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said it was a really challenging and unprecedented time for farmers in relation to “the length of this winter” which was “likely to continue for a while yet”. He said it had been a particularly trying time for the tillage sector, and that everyone was hoping for the weather to improve.

However, the Fianna Fáil TD said the Taoiseach and the Minister for Public Expenditure had ruled out the possibility of a mini budget or of fresh funding for departments. He added that he understood the pressure the sector was under and would continue to assess the situation in terms of planting over the coming days and weeks.

Mr McConalogue later announced the introduction of a fodder transport support measure to provide additional assistance to livestock farmers most severely affected by the “prolonged exceptional weather conditions”. A financial contribution is being provided to offset transport costs of hay, fodder beet, straw and silage for feeding where this involves a distance of more than 75km.

Speaking earlier on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Teagasc’s director of knowledge Stan Lalor warned that if the planting of spring crops “goes late” there could be a knock-on impact on the sector. He said there would be big challenges for individual farmers, but every effort would be made to connect farmers with others who have fodder and might be in a position to help secure supply.

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