Farmers warn of dry spell drought creating Covid-19 'perfect storm'

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Tillage

The enduring spell of dry weather led to a serious shortage facing the crop industry

A farm organisation has warned that the dry spell combined with Covid-19 could create severe problems for farmers.

ICSA tillage chair Gavin Carberry has said the lack of rainfall during the month of April will impact yields and compound difficulties for the sector over the coming months.

“Yields are very likely to be down significantly due to this extended dry period, and if we couple that with the expected fall in price as a result of Covid-19, we have the makings of a perfect storm,” he said.

“Met Éireann data indicates that average rainfall for April is well below average, particularly in the northern half of the country. Places where we would normally expect an average of 60mm for the month have seen less than 10mm so far. We saw this in 2018 when drought conditions hit the yield hard but at least we were able to achieve a relatively decent price for what we had. This will not be the case in 2020 however.

"Market disruption from Covid-19 is wreaking havoc; demand for malting barley from the drinks sector has been severely impacted, and will in turn add pressure on the feed market. None of this bodes well for the sector, and ICSA does not want to see tillage farmers left out when it comes to support measures from the Government or the EU," he said.