Ingredient for Anadin found in Co. Offaly field, but can it be used?

Farmers in the Shannon Harbour area of Co. Offaly, where the seeds for one of the main ingredients of Anadin were discovered last year, say harvesting the find would be near to impossible for them because of Special Area of Conservation (SAC) restrictions that have been placed on them.

The Meadow Sweet seeds that were discovered in the area were subsequently collected by a botanist and immediately taken away for harvesting in another country.

But farmers in Shannon Harbour – which is part of the Shannon Callows – say flooding, SAC restrictions and poor cattle prices have left them in a very precarious situation which may result in them having to leave the land altogether.

Last week, hundreds of acres of land in the area was under water because of heavy rainfall and local farmers called on the Government to reinstate the National Farm Plan Scheme which was in operation until 2012 in an effort to help them out.

Meanwhile, the Shannon Callows comprises five counties including Roscommon, Westmeath, north Tipperary, Galway and Offaly and last week’s heavy rainfall has left thousands of acres of land in the region under water.

John Egan – a dry stock farmer – says he and his counterparts in Co. Offaly are being “restricted from making money” because of constrains from the SAC and the constant threat of flooding.

“Last summer, this land that is all flooded now was in fine fettle – you could get any amount of fodder off it – but the problem we have is that because we are in an SAC we can’t spread 10:10:20 fertiliser, or slurry,” he added.

Egan went on to say that as a direct result of not being able to spread the fertiliser, the use of the land is being restricted by the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS).

“If it is a good summer I can let my calves out on these fields and they can eat away,” he said.

“We would also have a lot of wild birds and flora and fauna here whose habitats can’t be disturbed. That puts more restrictions on us.”

Egan also says that wild birds are also attracted to the area.

“Snipe and curlews have been sighted; unfortunately, the once very popular corncrake is no more around here but the area serves as a wintering ground for various types of swan including the Whooper and Buick.”

The Co. Offaly farmer went on to say there are also starlings native to the area and that in recent times a pea growing locally grabbed the attention of botanists.

“There is a special type of pea that grows in Shannon Harbour and it is one that has attracted the interest of a number of international botanists in recent times,” Egan continued.

“Last year, Meadow Sweet seeds were discovered on land parcels in Shannon Harbour. Meadow Sweet is one of the main ingredients in Anadin.

I believe that if farmers in this area were allowed to plough their land, an opportunity to harvest those seeds on an industrial scale would present itself.

He also says that farmers in the area are “totally restricted” when it comes to making money.

“We are totally restricted in terms of making a few pound here and it is making everything so much more difficult for everybody.”

He added: “All we want is fair play; we are asking for the reintroduction of the National Farm Plan Scheme – other people are in receipt of that yet we have been stopped from getting it – and we also want basic amenities and facilities in Shannon Harbour.”

He said the local roads were in great disrepair and that in some cases – because of the flooding – there was erosion leading to dangerous conditions for motorists.

He concluded: “Look at the road into the village – it’s in an awful state because of the flooding – there was a flood defense put in by the local authority but unfortunately it is causing road safety issues now.

“All we want is for that scheme to be brought back and some level of support for the people in this area who have had their homes flooded.”