The effects on farmers of the severe weather in the recent past and the implications of the forecast for the coming days were commented on today by the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

He said he recognised the difficulties and the hardship being experienced as a result of land which is very wet and slurry tanks full or nearly full. He reassured farmers that he and his Department will do all that is possible to assist them at this time.

In relation to inspections in particular, Minister Coveney said his Department would take a common sense approach and farmers need not be worried or concerned on this front. For example, where there has been severe storm damage including damage to fences and grazing or large deposits of stone or debris farmers will not be penalised under Direct Payments schemes.

The Minister advised farmers who find themselves unable to feed their animals that help can be provided. He reminded farmers that the Animal Welfare Helpline Lo Call 1850-211990 continues to operate for those with animal welfare concerns.

Minister Coveney said that Teagasc is already engaging with those clients who have been affected by bad weather. In addition, he had asked Teagasc to make practical advice available to all farmers on steps which can be taken to deal with their particular problems.

“My Department is also in close contact with farm organisations through the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council, whose members on the ground are very well placed to assess the situation. It is at times like this where the community spirit within the farming community comes to the fore”

While the majority of livestock are still housed and the supply of fodder is not an issue, there may be cases where farmers are faced with slurry tanks that are almost full and ground conditions not suitable for spreading. Minister Coveney said there are ways of addressing this and he advised farmers to seek advice from Teagasc.

Minister Coveney is visiting affected areas in Galway and Clare over the coming days and will be meeting with representatives and with some of those affected by this unprecedented bout of bad weather.

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