Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue says farmers across a number of sectors have been badly hit by Storm Emma and the exceptional snowfall over the past week and he’s urging Minister Michael Creed to ensure that funding is made available to help these farmers get back on their feet.

The conditions experienced over the past week were extremely severe, and it will take farmers weeks, if not months, to recover from the losses suffered.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “The agriculture sector has been very badly hit by last week’s weather event.  Dairy farmers had problems getting their milk to creameries with some having to dispose of their milk stock because collections couldn’t be made.  Sheep and cattle farmers lost animals to the almost unprecedented snowdrifts, while others are concerned about fodder stocks as animals had to be housed for days.  Some farms saw sheds and greenhouses collapse under the weight of the snow – resulting in tens of thousands of euro in damage.

“There is no doubt that climate change is impacting on our weather patterns.  Flooding is becoming more prevalent and last week we saw snow storms unlike anything witnessed in decades.  Despite the increasing frequency of adverse and unusual weather events, the government refused the option of including a scheme in Ireland’s 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP), which would have provided an opportunity to compensate farmers from losses to agricultural land and production caused by bad weather. This was a very serious miscalculation, which has left farmers without an annual compensation scheme.

“An application for a permanent weather compensation fund should be included in the next RDP amendment submitted to Brussels by the government.

“The farmers affected by Storm Emma will need assistance to get back on their feet and Minister Creed should step up to the mark.  His Department has been running huge underspends across a number of programmes over the past few years.  Considering this, the Minister should allocate some of the underspend to a dedicated compensation fund.

“We need to see a permanent scheme set up for farmers affected by adverse weather events, particularly when they are increasing in frequency and I am urging Minster Creed to act to protect farmers in the face of these conditions”.