SOUTH Down MLA Seán Rogers (SDLP) has spoken out in response to the Farming Minister’s reply to his calls for a Rural Improvement Scheme.
Mr Rogers said: “I have met with many farmers who suffered as a result of the snow. Farmers whose livelihoods crumbled in the space of a few weeks. I have been dealing with these individuals on a regular basis and understand the difficulties that they face.
“I made representations and repeated calls to the Minister for further assistance. My recent calls have specifically related to the need for replacement sheds and/ or improvements before the winter sets in.”
“I have been advised clearly by the Sinn Fein Minister that ‘There is no support available for structural damage to buildings resulting from the snow storm’.
“These farmers, particularly the Hill Farmers, are greatly worried about the onset of winter and what it has in store for them and their animals. In the depths of the Mournes, the only shelter these animals had was destroyed. The farmers’ only hope is that the winter is mild. We are also dealing with less animals and weaker animals following the cull that took place in early spring.
“The Farming Minister went on to advise me of the Agricultural Business Mentoring Programme which is designed to assist farmers with the business side of their farming. This scheme is in no way relevant to my call for new / refurbished sheds. The farmers that I am dealing with are fully aware of how to run their own businesses – the issue was the snow and the damage that it caused.”