Belfast Telegraph

Farmers' hardship funds not priority: Gildernew

By Clare Weir

Ulster farmers will miss out on a funding bonanza of over £1m after the Northern Ireland Executive failed to support a request for extra cash following harsh weather conditions.

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has confirmed that her bid for £1.1m in the June monitoring round, has not been prioritised for support.

The Minister had previously secured Executive agreement to bid for hardship funding for farmers who suffered loss of crops and sheep, as a consequence of this year's severe weather.

Snow, frost and flooding in the first part of 2010 caused catastrophic damage to livestock, vegetable and grain stocks across the country.

Expressing her disappointment, the Minister said that her department is under 'severe pressure' and has warned the Northern Ireland farming community to safeguard itself as best it can.

"While I felt obliged to raise these hardship issues with the Executive by submitting a bid in the June monitoring round, hardship payments such as these could not, unfortunately, be the highest priority," she said.

"DARD is facing many millions of pounds of unfunded inescapable statutory and contractual pressures and resources are under severe pressure across the board."