‘Agriculture minister must respond to farming weather crisis’ – Ritchie

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Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has urged the Agriculture Minister to provide compensation and alleviation measures to farmers who face immense delays in harvesting crops and will face higher feed costs as a result of the ongoing monsoon weather conditions. Speaking to Newry Times, Ritchie said: “Over the last number of months, farmers have had to face not only the ongoing financial problems as a consequence of the economic downturn, but the challenges presented by extremely bad weather characterised by prolonged pulses of heavy rainfall. “This rainfall has saturated ground and soil levels; prevented farmers from either harvesting silage or hay and other crops thereby forcing an increase in feed stuffs at a time when many farmers have not yet received their single farm payments. In some cases land adjacent to rivers or in low lying areas is water logged making harvesting difficult. As a consequence many farmers are financially out of pocket.” Ritchie continued, “Due to the very wet conditions, the Minister for Agriculture must immediately respond to the needs of the wider farming community and ensure that their financial position is not further imperiled. 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 situation is growing desperate for many farmers. It necessitates the need for the recall of the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, and immediate action by the Minister to provide relief measures for farmers.” She added, “Farmers across the country are not only experiencing financial pressures from the increasing feed bills, a direct result of the bad weather conditions, but many farmers are also experiencing delays in the processing of single farm payments, a totally intolerable situation.”
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