DAERA seeks permission to pay 70 per cent of Single Payments in October

Tyrone farmer Ashley McKelvey shows UFU leaders Ivor Ferguson and Barclay Bell around his flooded farmyard and fields. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Initial Single Payments could be increased to 70 per cent in October to help those affected by last week’s catastrophic flooding.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development (DAERA) is liaising with DEFRA to seek EU permission to increase the early payment from 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

DAERA recognises the hardship incurred by the farming and wider rural communities and is focussed on providing practical on-the-ground support for those impacted. It is implementing a number of measures to help those affected.

Many farmers are currently assessing the damage to their businesses. A number have lost livestock or suffered damage to farmland or properties. An increase in the level of advanced CAP payment will help alleviate some of the costs and therefore the Department will work to encourage the EU to make these payments. DAERA is very aware of the impact on affected businesses and their land and remains committed to making advance payments from 16 October to as many farmers as possible who have verified claims.

All impacted farmers are encouraged to submit their force majeure applications as soon as possible ahead of the deadline (14 September 2017) to ensure they do not miss out on EU payments schemes. The form can be used to notify DAERA of force majeure issues arising for all schemes including Basic Payment, Areas of Natural Constraint, agri-environment and woodland schemes.

Through its DAERA Direct offices, the Department has a network of advisors across Northern Ireland on hand to provide support and advice on a range of issues. In addition DAERA staff, in conjunction with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), will be providing advice clinics between 9am and 5pm at Glenelly House, Plumbridge (August 30), YMCA, Drumahoe and the Community Hall, Eglinton (August 31) and Strabane UFU Office (September 1).

Notification of further clinics will be advertised through the Department’s website, farming journals and other media. CAFRE will also be issuing an advisory bulletin to assist farmers in their recovery efforts.

In light of the impacts of the extreme conditions, DAERA is adopting a flexible approach to late notification of animal losses from affected premises. Farmers should contact their local DAERA Direct Office to seek advice.

Farmers are urged to take extra precautions if working in flooded areas or damaged property to keep themselves, their family and anyone else working on the farm safe. As well as DAERA and CAFRE advisors, local vets are available to provide advice to livestock keepers concerned about the welfare of their animals.

The advice to farmers and others is to:

Not enter flooded areas unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

Work in pairs or let someone know where they are going and carry a charged mobile phone.

Wear appropriate protective clothing including a high visibility jacket.

Take extra care when using machinery and drive slowly and carefully on flooded roads.

Remember flood water can lift manhole covers so extra care should be taken and particular care is needed in deep water or where is it flowing rapidly.

Contact their local vet if they are concerned about welfare or disease risk to stock.

In relation to public health issues, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) teams have also been working on the ground responding to any reports of pollution within the flooded areas. It has intensified its chemical monitoring programme with initial results due within days. It is also providing advice to the multi-agency flood response team and where possible taking action to mitigate any pollution.

DAERA continues to liaise closely with the Rural Support organisation, funded through its ongoing Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) programme, to ensure that it is resourced to deal with calls for advice and support to their helpline and any follow-up support resulting from the flooding.

Lastly, the Department continues to liaise with local representatives and the relevant agencies and bodies to gather information on the situation and provide support to those impacted.

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