Calls for support measures for flood-hit farmers to be widened

The parameters of the support measures currently in place for farmers who suffered losses as a result of the floods need to be widened, according to Fianna Fail’s Agriculture Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue.

McConalogue has called on the government to learn lessons from its belated response to flooding in Co. Donegal and to address broader concerns around the impact of flooding nationally.

Fianna Fail is also putting pressure on the government to do more to address the devastating impact of flooding in Co. Donegal – as well as getting to grips with national flooding issues, he added.

Families, farmers, businesses and sport clubs were all affected by the devastating flooding which hit the county last month. However the government’s belated response has left many struggling to make ends meet in the face of serious losses.

“The government needs to get to grips with the situation and start implementing relief schemes, as well as broadening out supports to include farmers who have lost grain crops, potato crops, unharvested silage and damage to agricultural roads.

“The Rural Development Programme should also be amended to allow for supports to farmers affected by adverse weather conditions,” the Fianna Fail TD said.

On account of Ireland’s “increasingly volatile weather”, the government needs to invest more in flood defences, he added.

“Over the past number of years, there has been a continual underspend in this area and it is essential that – in light of the situation in Donegal – that all money committed to flood defences is fully spent.

“Insurance issues may now arise for many families in Donegal. Fianna Fail’s Flood Insurance Bill 2016, which ensures that insurance companies must provide cover to homes in areas where the OPW (Office of Public Works) has invested in flood defences, has passed second stage in the Dail.

“This legislation will prevent insurance companies from cherry picking customers and potentially leaving others behind,” McConalogue concluded.

Support measures

Under a support measure for flood-hit farmers announced earlier this month, support applies to: losses of livestock; the loss of conserved fodder (hay or silage); and as a contribution towards the clean-up cost of agricultural lands – including the repair of fences – damaged by debris washed up by the floods.

Only losses not covered by insurance will be eligible for consideration, the department explained.

Commenting on the prospect of widening the parameters of this support measure, Minister Creed said: “While it is not possible to address all of the problems the unprecedented rainfall caused on farms in Inishowen, this measure will address the principal impacts on those farmers most affected.”

The closing date for applications to this support measure has been set as Friday, September 29. Application forms are available on the department’s website.