Cattle farmers in northeastern Algarve are concerned about the future because of the drought.

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A producer stated that the lack of precipitation and available water is worsening drought conditions, preventing the development of pastures in the countryside, and leaving Algarve livestock farmers concerned about the future.

Nuno Coelho told PP that the lack of rainfall has affected the growth of pastures, as well as the diversity of available species, thereby reducing the amount of time animals can feed in the field and forcing farmers to rely on feed and fodder, thereby increasing production costs.

“The situation has deteriorated since last year. Last year, the autumn/winter was harsh, but the winter/spring was mild, and the pastures survived, whereas this year, the opposite occurred. We had a wet autumn, which bolstered the dams, but since then it has been, to put it nicely, a winter without precipitation,” he said.

The situation tends to “get worse and worse” because “the plants do not have the proper growth and development, and year after year the variety of biodiversity in the seed bank in the soil is getting worse and worse,” as he explained.

“One hectare of land, for my animals, allowed me to graze there for 15 days very easily, and now, perhaps in three or four days they clean the land,” exemplified the producer, who has a herd of Algarvian goats in northeastern Algarve.

Nuno Coelho informed us that, in order to maintain the activity and “more or less cover the expenses,” he has “dramatically” reduced his herd from 130 animals three years ago to approximately 60 goats at the present time.

“The expenses remain the same, that is, the business was not very profitable before, and now it’s not profitable at all,” he bemoaned, warning that “resilience” is required to maintain livestock activity in the Algarve and to rely on other sources of income, as he does, to cover the losses that “threaten the survival” of the producers.

Nuno Coelho also cautioned that in the absence of change, “many people will abandon the activity or seek alternative means of remaining in the territory through other activities.

“The rain does not fall, we have no control over it, and there is no effective way to reverse this. If there is no water, there is no life, and I do not see much of a future for livestock farming not only here in the mountains, but throughout the entire Algarve”, he cautioned.

Nuno Lus, who also has a herd of about 300 goats in the northeastern Algarve, near the Spanish border and one of the most drought-affected regions of the Algarve, told Lusa that the lack of water and rising costs are threatening the livelihood of livestock producers.

“The situation has become dire. All the pastures have dried up due to a lack of water, and the situation is very complicated, said the farmer, lamenting that the October pasture sowings have not grown due to the lack of rain and water.

Nuno Lus explained that the pastures “are no longer producing what they should” because “it rained in November and December, but now, in spring, when it should have rained more, it hasn’t” and the crops have failed to grow.

“We had sown for the summer, spent money on planting, and now we’re going to have to spend more money on feed and straw,” he added, emphasizing that the original plan was to feed the cattle in the field until the summer, but “by the end of April, everything will be dry.”

Added to this is the increase in production costs, such as the cost of feed, which is approximately 13 euros per 25-kilogram sack compared to eight euros per 40-kilogram sack three years ago, he noted, emphasizing that this causes “an additional expense of about 1,000 euros per month” to feed the herd.

The price paid by each child has increased from 45 to 50 euros, but this sum “is insufficient to cover the additional expenses” that make the activity “more difficult each year.”

“Before, we had one bad year followed by three or four good ones. Now that we’ve had one bad year after another, the activity is becoming increasingly challenging,” he concluded.

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