Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Hardship Grant Scheme Eligibility
I and my colleagues in Government are acutely aware of the hardship being experienced along the Shannon river catchment area as a result of flooding. Government is providing a cross-agency response to the issue, co-ordinated by the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, under the guidance of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Officials from my Department are active participants in the work of the Group. I have also tasked my officials with monitoring the situation in parallel with their ongoing involvement with other Departments and State Agencies in the affected areas. In addition, I have asked Teagasc to monitor the situation on the ground and I understand that they have established support in locally affected areas (Shannon basin) through farm visits where necessary and the availability of advisors to support any farmers seeking information or guidance.
While there has been significant levels of flooding on farmland, the majority of bovine animals are still currently housed. The potential for animal welfare to be compromised is a key concern. My Department is operating a helpline (Callsave number 0761 064408 or 01-6072379) to which affected farmers or anyone with a concern regarding the welfare of animals can report details. My officials remain ready to respond to any such reports.
Positive weather last year resulted in significant levels of fodder being saved throughout the country and there have been no reports to date of shortages or supply issues in the affected areas.
In terms of support to the agricultural sector, my Department has issued payments of just over €1.7 billion in direct support payments to the farming community in respect of their activities for 2019.
I can assure the Deputy that I, my officials and those Agencies under my remit will continue to closely monitor the situation in the weeks ahead and will work with those most impacted by this extended wet period.