Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has been strongly criticised for failing to pay out a single cent from two schemes announced to help flood-hit farmers.
Farmers have hit out at him after it was revealed payments from a €2m fodder scheme have yet to be made, while a hardship scheme announced after the floods has yet to be established.
Although Tánaiste Joan Burton confirmed this week that her Department of Social Protection has made payments to about 300 families with flood-damaged homes, little progress is being made by the Department of Agriculture.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) criticised Mr Coveney’s “inertia” saying a lack of financial support has only compounded the hardship farmers have had to endure since the December storms.
The IFA said it is aware of around 300 farmers who have applied for money for destroyed or damaged feed stuff, but the department confirmed that none of these have received support.
In early January, Mr Coveney announced a fodder aid scheme and a hardship scheme would be put in place to help farmers who say hundreds of acres flooded, feed stuff destroyed, and in some cases animals lost.
A total of €2m has been provided through thescheme to support livestock farmers who suffered loss of fodder, but this has yet to be paid out, while a scheme to help the worst hit has not even been set up.
ICMSA president, John Comer, criticised the slow progress: “It might be understandable that as the floods recede the urgency around this issue recedes as well, but that would be very unfortunate and compound the misery of the farmers and ordinary households who have been so badly hit by the recent floods.
“It’s really up to the ministers most directly responsible — ministers [Alan] Kelly and Coveney — to ensure that the monies are made available in a fair and speedy way.”
IFA flood project team chairman Tom Turley said the association would be pressing the Government to fast-track payments.
A department spokeswoman on the fodder scheme, which closed on Friday, said applications are “being verified and processed”. She confirmed the second scheme has yet to be established.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved