PAYMENTS worth almost €530,000 have so far been issued to 256 farmers whose fodder was damaged in the devastating winter floods.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith disclosed the figures in a written reply to a Dáil question from Labour Party spokesperson Sean Sherlock.
Thousands of acres of land were saturated last November as a result of the most severe flooding in 50 years.
Farmers, already under pressure from falling incomes, lost valuable fodder stocks in the flooding, and emergency supplies were provided by the Irish Farmers Association and others, especially in the west of Ireland.
Urgent calls for help were made to the Government and the European Union while Mr Smith saw the situation at first-hand during a visit to the worst hit areas.
Following the hardship and distress caused by the widespread flooding, he announced the setting up of a €2 million fodder aid scheme.
The scheme was targeted directly at those farmers who encountered damage to fodder in the affected areas.
Mr Smith said in his Dáil reply last week he was very anxious the funding would reach the affected farmers as quickly as possible, but it was essential under the scheme that farmers demonstrate that their fodder was damaged and to what extent.
“To this end, therefore, it was necessary that each claim be verified by an on-the-spot inspection.
“Immediately applications began to be received by my department, the necessary inspections were begun, following which the applications were further processed for payment.
“Payments began to issue on December 18 and are continuing to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible.”
Mr Smith said he is particularly pleased at the speed with which these payments have been made directly to the affected farmers.
Eight of the 256 farmers who have benefited under this scheme to date had their payments capped at the maximum allowable under the rules (€7,500).
Aid was only payable in instances where genuine damage to silage, hay, concentrates or straw was caused by the flooding in November 2009.
All applications were subject to an on-farm inspection, during which the damaged fodder was required to be evident.
Mr Smith said aid was not payable where flood damage to fodder was covered by the farmer’s insurance policy.
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