Isle of Man News - POSTED Fri 05-10-2018

Farmers could get £1.2 million extra help after dry summer

by TH

Farmers could get £1.2 million extra help after dry summer - picture

Tynwald is being asked to consider spending £1.2 million helping farmers who’ve been affected by this year’s good weather.

If approved payments would be made in two parts – in November and March - via a drought relief scheme.

It follows a cold wet spring – which slowed grass growth - and one of the warmest and driest summers since 1976 which meant grass and crops struggled to grow.  

This meant farmers were forced to keep livestock inside and dip into their supplies of feed and bedding usually reserved for the winter.

The number of crops surviving through to harvest this year has reduced considerably. 

As a result many farmers have been left with a significant reduction in produce for use as feed and bedding, or to sell on the open market.

The same problem is being experienced across the UK and Ireland, meaning there is a surge in demand for feed and bedding which has seen prices triple in some instances.

Funding would come from Government’s Contingency Fund which sets money aside for exceptional situations.

Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Geoffrey Boot said: “We know that farmers have been hit hard by the exceptional weather that we encountered this year.  

“We need to prevent our farmers having bedding or food shortages this winter and being left with little choice but to sell off their animals cheaply.  

“Not only will this hurt farmer’s incomes, it could also mean a significant reduction in the Island’s livestock which could impact on meat and dairy supplies and prices in 2019.

“We have worked with the industry and the Manx National Farmers Union to come up with a scheme that we believe will help address the consequences of this year’s difficult weather and in doing so support our farming community through these very difficult times.”

Subject to Tynwald approval the scheme would commence on the 19 October 2018 with a deadline for applications of 31 October.

Brian Brumby, President of the Manx National Farmers' Union, said: "This is probably the worst drought most Manx people have known in their lifetimes, and certainly on a par with the last serious drought we had, which was in 1976.

"What's more, the drought came on the back of a very wet, cold and difficult winter which meant fodder and bedding supplies were extremely low, if not completely used up across the Island as the farmers went into spring 2018."

“We have worked with the industry and the Manx National Farmers Union to come up with a scheme that we believe will help address the consequences of this year’s difficult weather and in doing so support our farming community through these very difficult times.”

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister

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