Dobson demands resources to help flood-hit families

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Ulster Unionist Agriculture Spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has called on the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to immediately direct additional resources to help families, including the many involved in farming, affected by the flooding.

Commenting Mrs Dobson said: “The current flooding is leaving many farmers and their families facing an uncertain future. In many cases not only is their land waterlogged, but farming equipment and buildings have been left damaged and expenses continue to spiral and for a number their single farm payment remains unpaid.

“For these cases the Minister must immediately direct additional staffing resources to ensure that any outstanding administrative or procedural issues are dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“For the farmers affected these payments may well prove to be the life-line that they and their families need to get through this current crisis.

“The costs, including the running of pumping equipment to keep sheds dry and animals secure, is undoubtedly a drain of farm finances at a time when conditions are already extremely tough.

“The Executive must also bring forward a grant scheme, such as we have seen following previous flooding episodes to help farmers restore agricultural production where they have suffered uninsurable losses, including agricultural machinery and buildings.

“Any fund should also assist with the restoration of grassland, productive arable and horticultural land, as well as fencing, gates, farm tracks and water troughs.

“I also believe farmers should be able to claim retrospectively for essential work, including the securing of their livestock.”

Mrs Dobson has also advised farmers to take photographs of flood damage.