Wednesday woes: ‘There was a lot of frustration out there’

Consequences of harsh weather conditions on the site of the ‘Ploughing’ was the main discussion point for Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack.

Speaking to AgriLand presenter Claire Mc Cormack yesterday on AgriLand’s live broadcast in Screggan, Co. Offaly, McCormack outlined the importance of yesterday’s cancelled event as a key opportunity for customer engagement for exhibitors.

“Wednesday is obviously a key day in the ploughing event; it’s the main attendance day, and I think some of your earlier slides there show that it’s a critical day for businesses.

Challenge

“It’s going to put forward a challenge now what will the people do tomorrow and the day after. It’s extended obviously for Friday, and will the people attend tomorrow or will it just be damage limitation, damp squib.

“Hopefully the people will come out; ground conditions here are good, and there’s a lot of people rallying around the sites and structures back in place so hopefully it’ll be business as usual for as many as possible tomorrow.

But it certainly does typify the last 12 months where farmers and the farming community have been battling with mother nature.

McCormack noted that it was hoped that yesterday wouldn’t be as bad as it turned out to be, and apparently up to 2:00am yesterday morning, conditions were reasonably good on-site.

Frustration

“There was a lot of frustration out there though during the early morning and up to noon with a lack of clarity as regards what was going to happen,” McCormack said.

“Young families had travelled long distances and your heart would go out for them because they were frustrated, there was no facilities available for them, but certainly I think the NPA (National Ploughing Association) out of this needs to take away a lesson as well that communications can always be improved.

The president highlighted that after this incident he believes that communications for the trade stands and for people coming in the gate will have to be improved.

Hindsight is a great thing; looking back now it’s very obvious that it was a Status Orange wind alert and that it should have been called off early.

“It’s a massive structure, it’s a massive facility here, but it is only temporary facility so it was extremely vulnerable to wind. We cannot deny that; it isn’t a permanent fixture like the sheds one would have around their yards so it was vulnerable. Hindsight is a great thing though.

The ICMSA president acknowledged that it was a very difficult scenario for travelling visitors, with people booking time off work and school to go to the ‘Ploughing’.

However, he said it could have been a lot worse.

“Certainly the one thing we have to bear in mind, thankfully there was no serious accidents here, because there could have been serious casualties here, and that nobody coming or going – coming to the ‘Ploughing’ – was significantly injured.

We must remember that there were two fatalities on the island as a result of the storm, and thankfully they weren’t associated with the ploughing match and we have to take that in context as well.

On clean-up efforts, McCormack said: “The community spirit is out there; there’s people lending one another equipment and tools and various different things but for some individuals unfortunately it’s going to be too much of an ordeal or too much of a challenge to get up and going.

“For the vast majority I think hopefully it’ll be business as usual.”

The president added that the weather forecast is fairly positive, ground conditions are dry and hopefully that people will turn out tomorrow and have a good day.

Friday

Regarding Friday’s planned event he was unsure how well it will work.

“I don’t know, Friday can be a challenge for people, I don’t know, it’s too early to say.

“Maybe people that were here yesterday may return; they very often do for the second day, and when they have two days at home maybe they’ll come back on the Friday.”