Farmers fear volcano
Farmers on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula fear the Geldingadalir/Meradalir volcanic eruption could cause a spike in fluorine pollution that stops them producing hay this summer and prevents them from allowing sheep out to graze. Without their pastures and hay fields, they would need to cull their flocks and/or receive significant financial assistance. There are around 330 sheep on farms close to Grindavík during the wintertime, and many more after lambing each spring. Nearly all are usually allowed to roam freely during the summer months, as is the case all over Iceland.
Gretar Jonsson, chairman of the Grindavík sheep farmers’ association, says:
“I’ve been worried since the first evening. I really wish this bloody hell hole [loose translation] would close up today! If there’s damage, it could well be that we need to scale everything back. That situation could arise. Luckily, though, the prevailing wind is from the southeast here, so it [volcanic gas] doesn’t go over Grindavik. In a north-easterly it would be much worse. If poison is detected, we are not allowed to feed the hay or use the pasture. That would be difficult. Some could maybe carry on, but most would give up in the end.”
Sheep farmer Þórlaug Guðmundsdóttir has the same fears: “If pollution comes over, it would have a great impact on our summer pastures. We would need to keep them home.”
Would that work?
“We’d make it work. But it would be hard," she responds. "They want to go where they are used to going in the summer. This is really tough, because of course one really cares about one's sheep.”