South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has responded to DARD’s publication of the detail of its Hardship Scheme following the heavy snowfall in March.
She addd: “Profit margins are often very low for farmers selling livestock, particularly for those hill farmers affected by the recent heavy snowfall. Most, if not all, of the income from selling lambs, hoggets, calves or young cattle has to go towards the costs associated with running the farm, including the considerable cost of keeping breeding stock.
“By failing to offer compensation that reflects full losses sustained, those farmers affected will have to cope with reduced income. This decision will leave farm families with less income than anticipated and may lead to financial difficulties for some farm families.
“The compensation flat rate of £30 per lamb fails to reflect the price farmers would secure for lambs when they would normally be taken to market in late summer or autumn. It is especially concerning that the £30 compensation rate includes all lambs up to one year old. Lambs from six months to one year old would currently secure £70+ at market, and when the cost of producing that lamb is taken into account, farmers are facing a substantial loss in income.
“I have made representations to Minister O’Neill, urging her to review the detail of the hardship scheme, particularly the flat rate for lambs up to one year old.”