SOUTH Down SDLP MLA Seán Rogers has spoken out following the announcement by the Farming Minister on the long awaited hardship scheme.
Mr Rogers said: “When looking at the detail, it is evident that the worst affected farmer, can only receive a maximum of €7.5000 due to the De minimis rules. This figure includes the collection and disposal of dead livestock as well as the recently announced fodder transport scheme.
“So the farmer who has been much worse affected may receive the same amount as another farmer who has not been as badly affected – how is this fair? I understand that this will apply to 80 out of the 1,300 claimants but it has to be stressed that these individuals were the worst affected with one farmer having lost 436 animals.
“The Minister is still looking at the end of June for the issuing of these payments – surely this can be processed quicker. Nearly 10 weeks post snow and no payments have yet been made. What is the delay? I will continue to press the Minister on the reasons associated with the delay as the farmers I am dealing with on a daily basis needed this assistance weeks ago. I am worried for many that it may be too little too late.”
Mr Rogers also addressed the issue of the Fodder Scheme and said: “All who are applying must ensure that the price for the fodder is agreed at the time of order – not at the time of delivery. DARD’s assistance is just to help with the transport cost and is not a subsidy on the actual purchase price of the fodder. So it is vital that the price is agreed, at the time of order as it has been reported that the price of fodder increased drastically between the time of order and actual delivery for one local farmer.
“This is unacceptable as this scheme is designed to assist the struggling farmer not the actual haulier. The Fodder Transport Scheme runs until 31 May and I would encourage any farmer who is worried about fodder to make use of the scheme via http://www.