Stricken farmers will get break over pay scheme
FLOOD-hit farmers have been assured that "a common-sense approach" will be taken with environmental inspections linked to EU direct payments.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said he was aware of the severe weather-related problems being experienced by farmers nationwide.
The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has warned that thousands of acres of prime farmland are now under floodwaters – with farmers facing the threat of even more severe river flooding over the coming weeks.
Some farmers are finding it difficult to feed stock due to the floods and weather conditions while other landowners have experienced problems with flooded slurry tanks and smashed fences.
Mr Coveney will now tour Galway and Clare over the next three days.
Farmers in the two western counties are amongst the hardest hit by storms and floods since January 1.
Farmers in the Shannon, Lee, Blackwater, Suir, Barrow and Slaney river basins have also been hit by flooding.
He vowed that a common-sense approach will be adopted for key inspections under various government and EU schemes given the severe weather problems.
In particular, he cited slurry tanks that are filling with rainwater, grazing areas where fences have been damaged by floods and fields where floods have deposited silt or stones.
He confirmed that farmers will not be penalised for any obvious weather-related issues in relation to direct payment scheme inspections.
Mr Coveney also urged farmers who are having difficulties in feeding their stock to seek help.
He said the Animal Welfare Helpline – (1850) 211990 – continues to operate for those with animal welfare concerns.
Mr Coveney has also directed Teagasc staff to offer practical advice and support for all farmers struggling to cope with weather problems, such as full slurry tanks.
Visiting Liscannor, Co Clare, yesterday Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was also told that the harbour in the town will have to be cleared of rocks "first and foremost" if local fishermen are to have any chance of launching their boats for the start of the fishing season next month.