The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is confirming no let-up in the campaign to secure a special aid package for potato growers in Northern Ireland.

A recent survey confirms that up to 50% of potato crops have been destroyed in recent floods, with many vegetable crops also impacted.

President of the UFU, David Brown, said:

“Leading representatives from the Department of Agriculture visited some of the potato and vegetable farms in Co. Down that were most badly hit by the recent flooding.

“At that stage, a commitment was given by the civil servants in question, that a case would be made to secure aid for potato and vegetable growers, should any form of flood support fund be established.”

Aid package

Shortly after the visit, the secretary of state announced a £15 million aid package, according to the UFU.

“We will be following this matter up with Department of Agriculture officials as a matter of urgency,” Brown added.

Complementing this work, is the ongoing contact between the UFU and all of the political parties in NI.

“The union has been represented at all of the meetings over recent weeks. This included the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis held in Athlone earlier this month.

“There are many issues impacting on agriculture at the present time, the impact of the recent floods being one of them.”

The UFU estimates that approximately 50% of this year’s potato crops have been harvested. In addition to this, a number of vegetable crops have been destroyed.

“Many of the crops still in fields have just rotted. The water table in the affected fields is just so high,” Browne continued.

“There is also the risk of growers harvesting crops that look healthy coming out of the ground, but which could start to rot shortly afterwards.

“The UFU has made it clear that some of the flood recovery allocation package, announced by the secretary of state must go to agriculture businesses.

“For this to happen, the Department of Agriculture must be successful in securing a percentage of the money for our farmers who have lost their crops,” he added.