Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 19 October 2017

'The flooding did not discriminate against farmers, why does the Government?'

‘There is simply no defence’, says Donegal TD

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits the Glentogher River. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visits the Glentogher River. Picture: Caroline Quinn

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed came under pressure in the Dail this week to explain why some farmers affected by recent flooding will not be eligible to receive support under a Government compensation scheme.

Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue said , in a number of cases on the Inishowen Peninsula, the Government is covering 0pc of farmers' losses.

“They are entirely excluded.

“They have experienced a massive loss as a result of the flood, the same as anyone else, but that is not being recognised by the Minister.

“With no justification, they are being entirely ignored by him and left to fend for themselves. The Minister was in the area. I ask him very specifically for his reasons, but he has no answer. He is leaving farmers behind.

“While 90pc of them are included, why is the Minister ignoring the 10pc who are being left to fend for themselves, some of whom who have experienced the most severe losses?

Farmer Martin Grant from Ballymagowan lost livestock to the floods. PHOTOS: Caroline Quinn
Farmer Martin Grant from Ballymagowan lost livestock to the floods. PHOTOS: Caroline Quinn

“The flooding, severe as it was, did not discriminate in who it affected or the types of farmer on whom it had an impact, yet the Minister in his scheme is excluding certain farmers.

“For example, one farmer lost 40 acres of barley, which is entirely unusable and was wiped out. He is excluded from the scheme. Others lost potato crops, while others lost second-cut silage.

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“It is entirely indefensible, but it is not too late to change the scheme."

Read also: Potato farmer faces €300,000 crop losses from flooding

Defending his record on the issue, Minister Creed said he visited Inishowen Peninsula with his colleague, the Minster of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, following the exceptional rainfall of August 22 to see at first-hand some of the very significant problems that a number of farmers faced as a result.

“I committed during my visit to supporting these farmers, and my Department, in conjunction with other State agencies, moved swiftly to offer practical solutions to those affected.

Michael Gubbins from Crockhill, Buncrana lost 162 silage bales to the floods and has been forced to house his stock. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Michael Gubbins from Crockhill, Buncrana lost 162 silage bales to the floods and has been forced to house his stock. Photo: Caroline Quinn

“In the aftermath of the flood I prioritised the availability of support by means of the animal welfare helpline, which gives guidance on protecting animal welfare and safety, in addition to responding to urgent requirements for emergency feed provision.

“Staff from my Department as well as Teagasc were in the area. Teagasc provided advice to affected farmers in dealing with the immediate challenges that arose.

Read also: Video: Aerial footage shows damage to farmland in North West - 'I wanted to cry when I saw this devastation'

Minister Creed said from his experience of visiting Inishowen, it was clear that the principal and most widespread impacts of the floods on farms in the Inishowen Peninsula centred on damage to land, fencing, fodder and livestock.

"To address these pressing issues in the most effective manner I introduced a targeted measure of assistance.

“Support under this measure will apply to losses of livestock, conserved fodder of hay or silage and as a contribution towards the clean-up cost of agricultural lands, including repair to fences damaged by debris washed up by the floods.

“The measure will be subject to the provisions of EU de minimis state aid rules in the agriculture sector and only losses not covered by insurance will be eligible for consideration.

“While it is not possible to address all of the problems that unprecedented rainfall caused on farms on the Inishowen Peninsula, this measure is a most comprehensive, timely and appropriate response to the main difficulties farmers had to deal with. It closed for the receipt of applications last Friday, September 29. Applications will be processed as quickly as possible,” he said.

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