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Update for Farmers in relation to weather and flooding related issues - Minister Coveney

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, said that he is acutely aware of the difficulties being experienced by farmers due to the recent flooding caused by storm Desmond and assured farmers that his Department would take a sensitive approach to farm inspections.

The Minister confirmed an earlier commitment that farmers will not be subject to any penalties arising from issues generated by flooding of their farms. As inspections are a necessary requirement to facilitate the issuing of payments, it is not possible to stop all inspections but where significant flooding is evident on the farm, inspections are deferred. Undertaking inspections, while deferring force majeure cases, has allowed the payment of €3m in Protein Aid this week, the issuing of Young Farmer/National Reserve payments, the payment of up to €12m in additional ANC payments and the release of €30m under the BGDP scheme.

The Minister said that “Force majeure provisions provided in the EU Regulations will be applied by Department Inspectors and sensitivity shown where flood damage is found e.g. fencing missing”.

The Minister urged farmers in flooded areas to avail of the assistance and support available and to make contact with the Department’s Animal Welfare Help line or their local Teagasc advisers. Minister Coveney said that “The Department animal welfare help line (Callsave 0761 064408 or 01 607 2379) which is monitored around the clock, is aimed at providing assistance to farmers, who report a risk of animal welfare such as stranded animals or shortage of fodder”. Famers who are experiencing particular difficulty arising from the flooding should contact the helpline.

Referring to the close collaboration between his Department and Teagasc the Minister said that “I have asked Teagasc to provide dedicated on-farm advice to farmers in flooded areas”. In this regard Teagasc have set up a helpline (076 1113555) for farmers affected by the flooding.

The Minister re-affirmed flexibilities available to famers in flooded areas. These include the concession to remove flood water from slatted tanks and the movement of stock to avoid a risk of animal welfare issues. Farmers wishing to avail of these emergency arrangements should contact their local District Veterinary Office who will facilitate them.

To date this year over 98% of farmers have been paid over €1.2 billion in EU payments under the Basic Payment Scheme and the Areas of Natural Constraint (formerly the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme). The Minister said’ I am committed to issuing remaining payments as individual issues are resolved around applications and 99% of farmers will have their new BPS/Greening payments by Christmas’.

Finally, the Minister drew attention to the need for vigilance as regards farm safety particularly when dealing with stock management in these difficult weather conditions. Flooded lands carry hidden dangers.