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Further resources deployed to assist farmers affected by adverse weather

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has provided an update on actions underway to assist communities affected by the recent adverse weather conditions.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Speaking during a visit to farms in the Kilcoo area of County Down, Michelle O’Neill said: “Having seen at first hand the impact of the extreme weather conditions in this area and in East Antrim, I sympathise with the farmers and rural communities affected and acknowledge the difficulties they face currently.

“In response to these challenges, my Department has put in place a number of actions to assist those in need and provide livestock with access with food. Air surveillance of affected areas together with information supplied by local farmers is being used to identify and prioritise areas of need.

“Through the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) we have been able to source additional livestock feed and fodder and distribution to farms is already underway. Forest Service tracked vehicles known as Snowcats have been deployed to assist with delivery to hard to reach farms and a transport helicopter is scheduled to drop fodder in isolated areas this afternoon starting with the Glens of Antrim.

“My officials are also monitoring the situation and continue to provide veterinary and agricultural advice to farmers to help them mitigate the effects of this severe weather. I appreciate that in some cases the devastating effects of the weather have resulted in sheep perishing. I encourage affected farmers to keep good records of any livestock losses and additional expenditure incurred. DARD does not have an emergency contingency fund to deal with extreme weather events but I will explore the issue of hardship payments and support for disposal of fallen stock with the Executive this Thursday.”

Minister O’Neill also paid tribute to the community spirit and co-operation that she witnessed: “I commend the work of local farmers and volunteers who have battled the worst of the elements to assist their neighbours. I am impressed by the community spirit which is characteristic of our rural areas and I know that people will continue to do what they can to be good neighbours and to assist the vulnerable and elderly in their area.”

Farmers experiencing problems should call their normal contact within the Department or alternatively the DARD Helpline on 0300 2007852.

Notes to editors:

  1. For media enquiries please contact DARD Press Office 028 9052 4619 or email: Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.