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UFU boss in weather warning

By Cate McCurry

Published 21/09/2016

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell
Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell

The president of the Ulster Farmers' Union has warned of "big cashflow" implications after farmers faced unexpected bad weather this month.

Barclay Bell said farmers here were braced for a long winter, with many already under pressure because of poor prices.

Speaking after meeting farmers in Tyrone, Fermanagh, Derry and Antrim, Mr Bell added that some had faced unexpected bad weather conditions in September, with high levels of rain making field operations impossible and forcing cattle indoors.

"In some cases, cattle have already been housed for two weeks - and this is only the middle of September," he explained. "While the weather may improve between now and the end of October, it is doubtful, given conditions, that it will be possible to get livestock out to grass again.

"That has big cashflow implications, since it means higher feed bills are starting early, with many farmers now looking at what could again be an eight month winter."

The UFU president said that while farmers in the west were no strangers to difficult conditions, the latest blow had dashed hopes that better prices for some commodities might ease financial pressure in the final months of 2016.

"Once again we are having to appeal to the banks to recognise that cashflow pressures remain acute," Mr Bell warned.

"Early CAP payments will help, but when this funding hits bank accounts next month, it's important banks understand that a lot of this is already ear-marked for paying bills. It cannot be used solely for paying down bank borrowings.

Mr Bell also told how the weather was also making life difficult for arable farmers, particularly in the north and north west. "Many are in a difficult position of having to deal with poor prices and often disappointing yields, while an over-supplied global cereal markets is pulling prices down further," he said.

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