THE CLARE airport has pledged to help local farmers bales of silage collected from their property.
The 400 acres decided to harvest 1,000 silage bales on Friday to help the fodder crisis among farmers.
On Friday morning, contractors rolled onto the 400 acre Shannon Airport site shortly after 10 a.m. to begin three days of harvesting that will see almost 1,000 bales delivered to farmers across western counties in crisis due to fodder shortages arising from one of the hardest winters in living memory.
The first loads began to depart the airport on articulated lorries from midday to a number of regional locations to farmers, with some more locally based farmers arriving directly at the airport to collect bales for their own and neighbours’ animals.
Speaking from Shannon in Clare, the Irish Farmer's Association President Joe Healy said that the combined effort of the airport, IFA and farmers was a reassuring statement that, at the worst of times, the spirit of the community still triumphs in rural Ireland.
Mr Healy said: "It's great. This puts farmers into good form when you see the sunshine shining and see the mower working and the baler working and the bales stacked up here because farmers have just endured the worst winter on record..
"Those bales are a godsend and a life saver; the difference between farmers going to bed feeling very stressed and farmers going to be happy knowing that their animals have enough for tonight and tomorrow and next week.
Mr Healy said the kind move shows the respect the airport has for farmers: "Normally it's farmers helping farmers but for the likes of Shannon to come in and offer this, it shows the goodwill of Shannon Airport towards the farming community."
Shannon Airport’s Director of Operations Niall Maloney said that having opened up the airfield to the local farming community during the fodder crisis of 2013, the airport regretted that farmers were faced with another challenge of this magnitude so soon. But, he stressed, they hadn’t to think twice about responding.
"We were approached by the local farming community to say there is a crisis, which we're all aware of, and could we help. There’s only one answer you can give and that is ‘absolutely yes’...
"Back in 2013 we were able to get 1,600 round bales from four days or so of cutting but this time around we are going to have a shorter programme, probably over three days at most, that will hopefully carry some of the worst hit farmers in this region through. From talking to the local IFA, it is really going to go support the local farmers in dire need of this product for next couple of days."