Cold snap puts a freeze on farm profits

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The IFA has claimed Ireland's commercial potato growers will need higher prices to survive losses of €20m during the recent cold snap.


Brand Central

17 February 2010

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Potato prices on supermarket shelves could be set to rise, following potato crop losses of some €20m during the recent cold snap.

According to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), farmers were forced to leave 6,000 acres of potato crops unharvested as a result of the extreme weather conditions. This led to over three-quarters of these potatoes freezing solid in the ground and turning to mush and rotting when thawed.

The situation has not yet caused a shortage of potatoes in supermarkets – with stores stocked weeks in advance. However, Ireland’s 500-600 commercial potato growers have suffered significant losses, and the IFA has subsequently claimed farmers will need higher prices in order to survive these losses.  

Retailers must respond immediately by paying farmers a viable price for potatoes,  said IFA committee chairman Thomas Carpenter.

Cereal growers likewise faced significant losses in the winter oats crop following the countrywide freeze.  According to the association, farmers will face minimum losses of €140 per acre of destroyed crops, in order to get a new crop into the ground, and cover the additional costs of spraying.

Of particular concern to IFA tillage vice-chairman Tom Shortt, was the fate of Barra oats, which “got 20 days of sub-zero temperatures.” He also expressed fears for late sown winter wheat crops.

In light of such extensive losses, the IFA has also called on Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith to provide a support package for farmers.



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