Farmers across Northern Ireland have been struggling of late in light of recent storms and flooding.
This has made cash flow on farms a huge problem, with many struggling to make ends meet. Recent storms have resulted in many farmers facing the loss of crops, damaged lands and dead livestock. Recent flash floods have also left many farmers with little or no land to farm, meaning they have to buy in feed to feed their animals.
Officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Environment in Northern Ireland are now set to ask the EU for the authorisation of advance payments of up to 70%. These payments are set to be made in October and the department feel these advance payments will help farmers through these testing times. This figure of 70% is up from an already promised 50%, though it needs EU approval first so reports the BBC.
It is expected that widespread reparations will be needed to restore farms back to where they were pre-flooding. It is thought the bill to restore these lands to their original agricultural purpose will be a significant one. Any farmer affected by the recent storms are urged to get their exemption forms filled in as soon as possible. This will mean that any damaged land will still be eligible for subsidy payments. The deadline to get these forms in is the 14th of September.
A series of advice clinics will be on offer in the coming days, run by DAERA in conjunction with the Ulster Farmers Union(UFU). Barclay Bell, UFU president, visited some of the farms affected by the flooding, and said he was “shocked” and “saddened” by what he saw. Sheds, fields, and livestock were damaged and/or lost, according to Bell, with limited road and bridge access in places. A majority of this damage, Bell says, will not be covered by insurance.
Mr. Bell then made the call for an extension to the Farming Recovery Fund, first implemented in 2013 after the flash floods from that time. He reassured farmers that they are discussing all options available to farmers currently, adding that all farmers, not just those affected by flooding, will be eligible for these increased advanced payments which have been proposed.