Flooding disastrous for farmers

Hundreds of acres of farmland are still submerged under water, following last week’s torrential rain fall.

Hundreds of acres of farmland are still submerged under water, following last week’s torrential rain fall.

Vicarstown farmer Pat McLoughlin is concerned for the welfare of 40 bulls and 150 sheep who have been marooned on just five acres of land.

“The only way to get them out now is by helicopter or boat,” the Vicarstown IFA chairman said.

“They are marooned, and they only have what they have to eat. They are in a 40 acre field that’s now been reduced down to five acres.

The Vicarstown farmer’s only hope of rescuing his herd was if the rain stopped and the floods receded enough for him to get his lifestock out of the field.

Mr McLoughlin said that late last summer, some drainage works were carried out on the River Barrow and this has made a difference, but this needs to be repeated further down the river.

“Some people say the water is coming down off the motorway, but late last summer there was some drainage works done on the Barrow and there has been a significant improvement in these areas. We need the work to be repeated further down now.”

Laois IFA chairmain, Pat Hennessey, said last week’s floods came at a disastrous time for farmers.

“The ground conditions are very bad now and today’s rain (Tuesday) will make that worse. It will be hard to make good silage now. There are four or five farmers along the Barrow who have all had their grass ruined. Stock in Mountmellick had to be removed from the fields.

“The problem with flooding this time of the year is that the grass dies and ferments, and the stock won’t eat it. It if happens in the winter time it acts as a fertiliser and improves the grass.”

Mr Hennessey said it was hard to put a figure on the loss of silage and crops to farmers.

“If you had 60 acres of grazing, that could be worth as much as €100 per acre, it’s hard to put a figure on it. But we have to be thankful that no lives were lost.”

The IFA chair said last week’s rain will also put a strain on farm contractors now, as the early and late silage will run together.

“Any fine day now will be a hectic one with machinery, as the early and late silage will run together. They will also find it difficult to prevent muck from getting out onto the roads from the fields.”

Mountrath man, Michael G Phelan was almost able to sail across to Cullohill in flooded fields from Mountrath in his canoe, after the River Erkina burst its banks.

“There’s a lot of decent grass ruined. It’s a fierce loss to the farmers. With the dirt of the flood water, that grass is good for nothing.

“We’ve been trying for years to get the Erkina and Goul drained. There has been survey after survey done, and thousands spent on them.

“The council will blame the Parks and Wildlifes Service and the Parks and Wildlife will blame the council. It’s baffling and bewildering why they just can’t do the work. You only get a couple of months to get the work done.”

Mr Phelan said this flooding is a regular occurance in Mountrath.

“It happens regularly. The river is blocked with weeds and silt, there is nowhere for the water to go. There has been no drainage done on the river in 40 years.”