‘Maybe we will be forced to cut our rates stocking’ – how a farmer copes with drought

  • ‘Maybe we will be forced to cut our rates stocking’ – how a farmer copes with drought
    FarmIreland.t. E.
    Farmers may have pants on the basis of this heat in September, and even then it would take the flood over him a lot of good rains to get the ground in good condition for livestock, according to veteran dairy man John Robinson.
    https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/dairy/dairy-farm-profiles/maybe-we-will-be-forced-to-cut-back-our-stocking-rates-how-one-farmer-is-coping-with-the-drought-37168683.html
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Farmers may have pants on the basis of this heat in September, and even then it would take the flood over him a lot of good rains to get the ground in good condition for livestock, according to veteran dairy man John Robinson.

This 59-year-old in Kilmanagh Co Kilkenny never felt the heat so bad in his four decades of agriculture, and he feels that unless there is sudden changes in the weather, there will be a serious fodder crisis this winter.

“There is no point in putting out fertilizer at the moment, he just remains on the surface of the earth,” he says.

“We need the flood and rainy weather for several days in a row every week to get a growth spurt and make another cut for the winter.

“If the rain doesn’t come by September, every farmer will be hoping that the Minister of agriculture and cooperatives have a viable scheme the feed that the animals are well-stocked farms.”

It’s a harsh assessment from the man who began his career in 1975 agriculture in adolescence and who now believes that weather is the biggest “unknown” face to Irish agriculture.

“I experienced a drought in all the decades I work on a farm but nothing like this year,” says John grimly.

“Maybe there is something in this theory of climate change, and carbon emissions are so high, perhaps we will be forced to reduce our prices for the gifts.”

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John, who grows 130 acres, feels the milk price, which he receives from Glanbia “not adequate”, given the weather challenges faced by farmers, but he welcomed the cooperative decision on the introduction of a two-year interest-free loan scheme to help members who are experiencing feed problems.

But at the moment, farming life is not to see how the grass grows, driving his tanker in the local river to attract about 1,500 gallons of water on his 170-strong herd of British Friesian and Holstein crosses and to pray that did not happen overnight, a pipe burst in the village.

The price of this heat for farmers in the region will burn, says John.

“The cost of buying additional ration for cows at high prices and buy in any round bales that come on the market takes the value from the price of milk,” he explains.

John recently bought a batch of Spanish grass, a herd of enormous pleasure, but he wonders if more of them become available over the next few months.

John is married to bronagh, a specialist nurse dealing with physical and mental disabilities. They have four adult children: Kate (28), nurse; John (27), a master’s degree in dairy graduate completes his “rite of passage” in Australia, where he is driving a backhoe, Julie (23), mathematics, chemistry, and science graduates seeking work; and Anna (21), who is completing his training to become a nurse.

Interestingly, John is waiting to stop the cattle on the retirement age, so I ask him when this might happen.

“Well, we’ll see if John will get from hi-Mac in Australia and return home to work on the farm, although he seems to be enjoying himself down under,” he replies.

“I would say, go away in five or six years, but we’ll see.”

To leave the farm, the main interests of John hurling – of course – and travel.

Spain is next on the agenda for the Robinsons, but not until the Irish weather returned to normal, and it may take some time.”

“You can’t quit when things are not settled on the farm,” says John.

In conversation with Ken Whelan

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