‘Minister fools farmers into thinking disposals were free’ – Rogers

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Sunday, June 16th, 2013
South Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers has welcomed the individual notification of what monies is due to each farmer following the spell of snow and ice in March of this year. Rogers said, “At long last DARD has finally notified each farmer of the payout they are due to receive in the form of the hardship fund. “I am surprised at the length of time that it took to reach this point however we are where we are. It is imperative that each farmer signs Annex A and returns it to Orchard House. This must be done by the 18th of June at the latest – failure to submit this form by this date will rule the farmer out of this hardship scheme. “I will now address the issue that has been bubbling for quite some time. Due to the “EU De-Minimis ruling” many farmers who should have been in line for an approx. £12k payout are now only likely to receive £5.5k. Rogers continued, “I feel it highly unfair that the costs of collecting and disposing of the dead livestock and also the cost of the fodder scheme is included in this €7.5k cap per farmer. Especially as when the Minister initially announced the collection of animals, the cost of which was due to be shouldered by the Department. “After asking the Minister on the 20th May 2013 – the Sinn Fein Minister stated, “DARD is paying for the costs of collection and disposal of fallen stock that have died as a direct result of the snow storm.” “This is very misleading information for local farmers. There appears to have been a total U-turn as this is now being deducted from the Individual farmers’ hardship entitlement. The SDLP MLA added, “It is imperative that the Minister for Agriculture examines the possibility of providing further financial assistance to this small number of farmers who were worst hit by the adverse weather. “The hardship fund for these farmers is more or less useless as it doesn’t even begin to compensate the farmers for their huge loss of livestock.”
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