‘DARD must make farmers aware of deadlines’ – McKevitt
SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt says the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) must ensure that all farmers affected by the snow storms are made aware of important deadlines that could affect their entitlement to the severe weather compensation scheme and the less favoured areas compensatory allowance.
Speaking to Newry Times, McKevitt said, “The Minister for Agriculture has yet to announce particulars of the compensation scheme to assist farmers who lost livestock during extreme weather conditions but she has said that the primary criteria for eligibility will be that farmers must have been severely affected by livestock losses and have fallen livestock collected by approved renderers between 2nd and 15th April.
“This deadline has now been extended by four days allowing farmers up until 19th April 2013 to avail of the collection and disposal arrangements but it is vital that DARD makes farmers aware of this deadline.
“The farming community, especially in counties Down and Antrim, has endured great hardship over the last few weeks due to extreme weather and I want to ensure farmers and their families receive all financial support available.
She continued, “Farmers intending to apply for the less favoured areas compensatory allowance (LFACA) payments and claims for the 2014 scheme year could also encounter problems. The LFACA claims are made on the 2013 single application form and require the farmer to have the appropriate stocking density between 1st April and 31st October 2013.
“All Farmers who cannot meet the required stocking density between those dates as a result of force majeure associated with snow conditions should write to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at the earliest opportunity to inform them.
“It is my understanding that DARD has put a deadline on such notifications and will only accept letters up to but not beyond the single application form submission deadline of 15th May 2013.
McKevitt added, “I encourage all those who may be affected to write to DARD as soon as possible and if you require assistance contact my constituency office on Newry Street, Warrenpoint. I can be reached on 02841774386 or alternatively by e-mail at Karen.McKevitt@mla.niassembly.gov.uk.”
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