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Senator Kathryn Reilly questions Minister on effects of flooding on agriculture

20 January, 2016

Speaking in the Seanad on Statements on Flooding, Senator Kathryn Reilly questioned the Minister of State Simon Harris on the effects of the recent flooding on farming and grass quality in the coming months.

Senator Reilly said:

“Flooding and wet weather are so costly to agricultural land because they cause delays in and reduction of crop harvest.  Flooding can cause significant damage to grassland. The degree of weed infestation, duration of flooding, soil type, amount of silt and debris, and the flow rate of water determine the effects of flooding on pasture damage and the subsequent recovery. Indeed, Teagasc have warned that what will result in many flooded areas is a reduction in the quality of silage.

“With the onslaught of flooding over a prolonged period, this is particularly worrying because of the effects that will become evident in weeks or months to come. Can I ask the Minister what interactions have taken place with farmers’ organisations and, coupled with the work being done in terms of homes and small businesses what impact analysis is taking place on the effect for farmers?

“It will only become apparent just how terrible the effects of the flooding will be later this year. Crop yields, harvests and the effects on livestock farmers will have to be assessed. Will there be an income plunge for farmers because of the increased costs associated with dealing with the flooding and effects on grass or crop quality? Indeed, in my own local paper today, a Teagasc adviser, David Colbourne, warned that with the level of flooding over recent weeks we might not get the high quality productive grasses coming back, with the effects being on the silage yield later in the year.

“I welcome the schemes put in place by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Simon Coveney, which will help in some way to compensate farmers for fodder lost and so on. However, like those homes who are in danger of repeat flooding, these issues are likely to be reoccurring and the farming community, who very often have difficulties accessing bank credit, need some reassurances. They need to know that when the issue of flooding falls off the political radar, when the issue really comes home to them in the coming months, their problems will be addressed.” 

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