As Cyril McLoughlin swings his scythe at “jungle land” on the road verges at Lurgan Road, he reflects on “the latest contemptuous treatment of farmers by government agencies”.
The former Ulster Unionist councillor had farmland in the area “stolen at rock bottom agricultural prices” as part of the grand Craigavon new city plan of the 1960s – and bought much of it back at prices “again dictated by Stormont when they had taken more than they needed”.
Now he’s having to cut the grass on swathes of the DRD-owned land close to his reclaimed farm, with the DRD policy that they only have the funds to cut grass once a year.
“The verges are an absolute disgrace,” said Cyril, a farming pensioner. “If farmers left their land in this unacceptable condition, we’d be fined.
“Around 200 acres that were in our family for generations were seized for Craigavon and we ultimately bought 50 back.
“I also have land close to the Bann at Seagoe and I have it in hay and preserve wildlife – but this lack of care of land reflects badly on the DRD.”
He first took the scythe to a small portion of land near his home, which he keep immaculate – “I couldn’t bear to look at it” – and his cutting activities have expanded.
“When I was on the council, we had the same problem with government agencies and actually cut some of their grass. And in fairness the local council does its best. But this wild land causes weeds and seeds to blow all over the place and it makes things worse.
“The scythe is the only way with this waist-high grass. A mower wouldn’t look at it and the longer they leave it, the worse things will get. But I do my best and hope they have a change of policy.”