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My cattle could starve without state help, says worried Armagh farmer Aaron Taylor

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Aaron Taylor from Markethill needs financial help to feed his cattle

Aaron Taylor from Markethill needs financial help to feed his cattle

Aaron Taylor from Markethill needs financial help to feed his cattle

A farmer who has invested thousands of pounds in a new shed says the coronavirus pandemic has left him struggling to feed his cattle.

Aaron Taylor (32), from Markethill, Co Armagh, is relatively new to farming and is building up a herd of cattle to sell as beef when fattened.

He admits to being in a "tight place" and is concerned about his cattle.

For the past year Aaron has been working with a friend three days a week in a gardening business. He did this so he could feed his cattle and pay for the new shed, which cost over £50,000.

Since the coronavirus crisis closed down the gardening business, Aaron cannot afford to buy feed for his cattle and is appealing to the Government for help.

He said: "I've only been in farming for three years now and I'm starting to build up a beef herd. I had to sell off 10 at the end of last year to help pay for the new shed I built, but I still owe over £20,000 for it.

"I'm left with 30 head here that I need to feed as they are not out on the grass yet, but since all the gardening work has dried up I have no cash left to buy feed for them."

Aaron's local livestock mart is also closed and he cannot sell his stock.

His herd is currently closed down awaiting a TB test and he cannot move any cattle on or off the farm.

He added: "It's a real nightmare. I need financial help, but when I first contacted the benefits office they mentioned I could get around £90 per week, which is no use to anyone.

"Last summer I built a new shed for rearing calves with the aim of fattening 160 head per year.

"However, I have only built up numbers to 30 cattle as I still have to pay off the shed and have very little cash to feed the animals.

"With no cash coming in I really am in trouble to make further payments to ease some of the debt and get feed in for the animals."

Aaron's elderly father lives with him and he is very concerned that the poor cashflow, along with the pandemic, will cause more stress to his dad, who has health issues.

Yesterday afternoon Aaron received a bit of a lifeline which offered some cash to help in the short term.

He said: "I managed to contact Universal Credit, who asked for my date of birth and national insurance number.

"They said they would put around £320 in my account to help and then £90 per week after two weeks' time."

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