THE BISHOP of Cork and Ross has said that farmers have been asking him to pray for an end to the fodder crisis that has left animals starving to death.
Bishop John Buckley has called on the Government to “monitor this crisis situation closely”, because of the severe hardship it is causing.
Bishop Buckley said: “I have been travelling the diocese, before and during Easter, and have been talking to farmers and to their families.
“Due to lack of feed, animals are suffering great stress during this difficult winter and late spring. I am calling on the government to monitor this crisis situation closely and to generously, and quickly, address the feed requirements of animals. This emergency situation has resulted in reports of animals dying on farms.”
“Many farmers have approached me, asking for prayers.
“Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed great hardship in the farming community. I am asking all Masses in the dioceses to offer prayers this weekend for the farming community and to pray for an end to the wet and unseasonably cold weather.
“This is particularly true of West Cork. Let us remember them in our prayers.”
For months, farmers have faced difficult conditions, due to persistent, cold-and-wet weather.
Farmers usually purchase enough fodder — dried hay or feed given to cattle and livestock — to last until the spring, when the grass begins to grow and animals can begin to eat that, instead.
However, the weather since Christmas has meant poor grass growth and a lack of fodder for animals.
Macra na Feirme president, James Healy, has told the Evening Echo that Cork farmers are at breaking point, due to the ongoing crisis.
Mr Healy, a part-time beef farmer in Donoughmore, said, in many cases, farmers care more about their animals than they do about themselves and to hear their animals crying out in hunger is very distressing for them.
He encouraged farmers to talk to someone, friends or family, about the pressure they are under and the ongoing issues they are dealing with, to maintain their mental health.