‘Farmers must be assisted after heavy rainfall caused crop damage’ – Ritchie
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has urged the Agriculture Minister to provide compensation and alleviation measures to farmers who have had their crops ruined or face long delays in harvesting crops and higher feed costs as a result of the ‘monsoon’ weather conditions.
Speaking to Newry Times, Ritchie said: “In July I asked the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to respond to the needs of farmers who have had to face the challenges presented by extremely bad weather, characterised by prolonged pulses of heavy rainfall.
“The rainfall has saturated ground and soil levels; preventing farmers from harvesting silage and other crops thereby forcing an increase in feed stuffs at a time when many have not yet received their Single Farm Payments.
She continued, “In several cases land adjacent to rivers or in low lying areas is water logged making harvesting difficult and as a consequence many farmers are out of pocket. Back in July the Minister’s response was that she would monitor the weather and its impact. This was not a strategy to assist the agricultural industry and does not help farmers who are bearing the brunt of the difficult weather conditions.”
“Unfortunately, heavy rainfall and the consequential saturation of crops has continued. The Minister must now step up to the mark and look at ways in which to assist and alleviate farmers facing ruined crops and increased feed bills as a result.”
Ritchie added, “A compensation scheme similar to that provided for potato farmers by DARD a few years ago needs to be introduced to alleviate the current financial pressures brought about by the wet weather conditions.
“The Agriculture Minister needs to immediately respond to the needs of the wider farming community and ensure that their financial position is not further imperiled while also providing a list of alleviation measures to protect hay, silage, grain, potato and vegetable crops.”
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