Sperrins farmers included in livestock collection scheme

MANY of the calls made to the DARD helpline following the loss of livestock during the recent snow storms have been from farmers in the Sperrins region not in the published postcode areas.

And they have been accepted onto the collection scheme on the basis of the evidence provided, according to the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.

A good start had been made collecting the livestock that died as a result of the snow storm. The Minister was speaking as she visited the Plumbridge farm of Eugene O’Neill who lost a number of livestock during the adverse weather conditions.

According to the Minister, to date 3,130 livestock have been collected across the affected areas.

“This immediate work is very important for a range of animal health and environmental impact factors. Also, the final hardship package will be linked to verifiable losses,” she said.

The Department will get this necessary information as farmers have stock removed and disposed of by the approved renderers, she explained.

“We have made it clear that farmers in affected areas will have these collection and disposal costs met by the Department,” she added.

The Minister explained that while there is a list of published postcode areas for the collection and disposal scheme, this did not exclude other farmers from other areas who have suffered severe livestock losses as a result of the snow storm.

“It is clear that are smaller discrete areas in other locations in the north where farmers have been equally affected by the snow storm. Farmers who feel they should be eligible, but are not in the published postcode areas, should ring the DARD helpline 0300 200 7852 and provide information which would support their eligibility,” said Ms O’Neill.

This will be assessed from both other calls received on the helpline and from information provided by DARD staff on the ground responding to those calls.

“The vast majority of calls received from such farmers to date, including a number from around the Sperrins and other affected areas in the west, have been accepted into the scheme on the basis of the evidence provided.

“The evidence that is taken into consideration includes information provided by the farmer, information available from DARD staff on the ground who have visited farms in the immediate vicinity and satellite imagery of snow fall,” she added.