Written answers

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Department of Agriculture and Food

Crop Losses

9:00 pm

Photo of Ulick BurkeUlick Burke (Galway East, Fine Gael)
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Question 356: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to assist farmers in the flooded regions of south Galway who have had their lands rendered useless for the past six months due to the flooding and who have lost all spring grass growth and have had to re-seed their fields only for it to be again destroyed due to recent flooding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17765/10]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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There have been many calls on my Department for assistance in recent times, not only in respect of the recognised difficulties in the dairy and sheep sectors, which I addressed through the Dairy Hardship Scheme, the Dairy Efficiency Scheme, the Upland Sheep Payment and the Grassland Sheep Scheme, but also in response to difficulties brought about by adverse weather conditions. Two issues, which were considered especially worthy of attention, were the fodder losses resulting from the widespread flooding which occurred late last year and the losses experienced in the potatoes and vegetables sector, as a result of the very severe frost in January 2010.

Mindful of the hardship and distress caused by the widespread flooding, on 27 November 2009, I announced the introduction of the Fodder Aid Scheme, targeted directly at those farmers who suffered damage to fodder in the affected areas. While I was very anxious that the funding reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible in order that farmers could purchase the feed to feed their animals, it was essential that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent. To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection. I had initially set the closing date for receipt of applications as 11 December 2009, but subsequently extended it by one week. Immediately applications began to be received by my Department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the successful applications were processed for payment.

I am pleased to say that payments commenced issuing on 18 December 2009 and, to date, have issued to 256 applicants nationally, of which, payments have been made to 107 Galway herd-owners.

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