Weather woes and concerns mount

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is warning that farmers are caught in a perfect storm, squeezed between margin pressures, high feed input costs, and limited supplies of both forage and bedding materials.  It says that this is taking a financial toll and the mental health and well-being of farming families that cannot be ignored.

UFU president and Fermanagh farmer, David Brown, says the challenges now being faced are unprecedented. “We are well used to coping with wet weather, but the present situation is beyond anything that could have been planned for.  The rain is relentless, and frustration is now giving way to despair, as the realities of a potentially bad grazing season and harvest come on top of concerns about prices not covering the cost of production.  This is as serious a situation as most farmers can remember – and it is affecting every sector of agriculture.  It is also not unique to Northern Ireland with farmers across these islands struggling with the poor conditions.  There is no doubt this weather is now threatening domestic food production. ” he said.

The UFU has raised concerns about this with the DAERA Minister, CAFRE, politicians, and the banks, urging them to seek solutions and to be aware of the pressure farmers are under.  The UK Farming Unions have also had meetings to see what action can be taken at a national level.

“We are disappointed, that no support was available for the potato and vegetable farmers who suffered significant flooding losses last autumn, even though £15 million was allocated for the UK and it appears that farm businesses in NI are not going to receive the support that has been allocated in England.”

“Our greatest concern however is around the mental toll this is taking on farmers.  We are all in the same position struggling with saturated ground and the ongoing wet weather, but that does not mean individuals are not letting this get on top of them.  We are working to do what we can to assist alongside other organisations, including Rural Support, and we would urge all farmers not to be afraid to seek assistance – or to at least make sure they speak to their neighbours and other farmers.  This is becoming a crisis for the industry, but we need to prevent it from becoming a mental health crisis for farming families,” said Mr Brown.

The UFU has developed an online fodder map to help farmers identify where silage is available for those in need. This can be found at or contact your local office.