Minister promises ‘practical approach’ for flood-stricken areas

Following last week’s devastation in the north west – particularly in parts of north Donegal – the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has promised a “practical approach” in dealing with flood victims.

The minister visited some of the worst affected areas on Friday (August 25).

Speaking from Co. Donegal, Minister Creed commented: “I have visited a number of farms today [Friday] and saw firsthand the very difficult circumstances that farm families in Co. Donegal are experiencing as a result of this freak weather incident.

“My officials are also on the ground locally monitoring the situation; I have received their updates on impacts on local farms.

“The department is working closely with Teagasc staff who are also making themselves available to all affected farmers to provide the most appropriate advice on how to manage these situations.”

Minister Creed stressed that his department’s Animal Welfare helpline is available at: 0761-064408 and on: 01-6072379 to deal with any queries or concerns in relation to animal welfare or safety concerns.

The minister added that it is also important that farmers liaise with their local veterinary office where animals need to be moved urgently.

He also confirmed that his department is working closely with other departments and agencies as part of the cross-government response – which is coordinating the national response to the extreme weather event.

Image source: Clive Wasson

Officials from the Department of Agriculture attended an inter-agency meeting held in Dublin on Friday morning, he said.

I can assure farmers, whose land has been flooded and who are concerned about possible consequences in terms of eligibility for payments, that a practical approach will be taken in terms of dealing with people who have been victims of these events which were completely outside of their control.

The minister also reiterated the need for farmers to ensure their own safety is foremost and to seek help when dealing with difficult or risky situations.

Minister Creed concluded: “I wish to reaffirm my full support and that of my department to farmers in the affected areas.

“We will continue to monitor closely – with input from Teagasc – the effects on agriculture in Co. Donegal. We will also be working closely as part of the inter-departmental group established to deal with this unique weather event.”

‘Department must step up and help’

Also on Friday, the President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), John Comer, said that, while it is absolutely essential that all state agencies play their role in supporting the people affected, a particular effort must be forthcoming from the Department of Agriculture – which must “step up” and actively support farmers in the area.

Comer said that aid must be practical and immediate and should centre on a financial assistance package. He added that there should be a period within which no farm inspections will take place in areas damaged by the flash-flooding.

Looking slightly ahead, Comer said that particular urgency should be attached to getting normal payment applications from farmers in the affected districts fully processed and paid on time.

“The ICMSA thinks that, initially, aid should focus on those farmers who have lost livestock and winter fodder or have suffered damage to their land or buildings – and aid should be made available to help those farmers under those three general headings.

These so-called ‘once a century’ events are starting to look like they’ll be occurring much more frequently than that.

“We’re going to have to develop and work on systems that will ensure that the people affected are given every support possible to get their homes, farms and businesses repaired and back to a normal condition as quickly as possible,” Comer concluded.