Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

ICMSA queries EU flood pledge

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farmers in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are set to receive payments from the EU Solidarity Fund after severe flooding destroyed thousands of acres of crops.

The overflowing of the Danube and Elbe rivers resulted in historically high water levels, damaging agricultural land, forestry, horticultural farms and inland fisheries.

Announcing its intention to provide support for the stricken regions, the European Commission said the floods had resulted in severe losses of sensitive crops such as maize and potatoes, and special crops such as strawberries, asparagus and field vegetables.

"In many cases the land is not passable and the animal fodder can no longer be used. Recultivating the fields makes no sense in some cases due to the late season. In many cases the 2013 harvest is lost," the Commission maintained.

It added that livestock farms in the affected regions were under threat from a shortage of fodder due to the losses, meaning they would have to buy additional feed supplies during the winter months.

Reacting to the news, ICMSA president, John Comer, said there seemed to be a very stark contrast between the speed and ease with which the European Commission was prepared to deploy the Solidarity Fund to member states in central Europe and the response to Ireland over its €1bn weather and fodder crisis.

Mr Comer asked why the Irish fodder shortage and need to provide feed supplies for next winter were any less deserving than the problems faced in central European states.

"Irish farmers will require an explanation as to why the losses suffered by Austrian farmers due to flooding are deemed much more important and worthy of relief than the losses suffered by Irish farmers," he added.

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It is estimated that more than 410,000ha of farmland in Germany, 50,000ha in the Czech Republic and 22,000ha in Austria were affected by the flooding.

The natural disaster is believed to have been on a par with the record floods of 2002 in the same countries.

In Germany alone, initial estimates put the cost of last month's flooding at €12bn.

Irish Independent