Press Release

Committee Encourages Use of ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ Section for Farmers Hit by Severe Weather

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Reference: AGR 06/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development has welcomed the Minister's announcement on stocking density (the number of stock per hectare) under the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances (LFACA) Scheme.

The LFACA Scheme is part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) 2007-2013.

As well as pressing for a Departmental timeline for the Hardship Scheme, Committee Chairperson, Paul Frew MLA said: "Around 14,000 farmers apply to the LFACA scheme every year. One of the key eligibility requirements for the scheme is that farmers keep a certain number of animals. Of course, due to the recent severe weather conditions, many farmers have lost large numbers of animals, and are therefore worried about losing out on their LFACA payment this year.

"The Committee is very pleased to get assurances from the Minister that the Department will look favourably on requests from those applications under the LFACA scheme's Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances provisions. This will provide much-needed support for our hard-pressed farmers. It is helpful that the Department has developed an application form to apply for these provisions, to help the farmer provide the necessary information for these circumstances.

"We also welcome the news that the Department will accept applications under the Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances provisions until 15 May 2013. We strongly urge all farmers who are eligible to fill in the new form as soon as possible so that they do not lose out."

Deputy Chairperson, Joe Byrne MLA said: "The recent snowfall has caused devastation for many farmers, so I am very glad that the Department has recognised this by opening up the requirements under the LFACA scheme. This is a time when our farmers desperately need all the financial support that they can get.

"We want as many farmers as possible to know about this new flexibility under the scheme and to apply for it as soon as they can, before the 15 May deadline. We urge all eligible farmers to make the application as soon as possible."

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

The (LFACA) scheme includes an area based payment for eligible hectares of Severely Disadvantaged Land (SDA) and Disadvantaged Land (DA)/Common Land and one of its key requirements is the maintenance of a 0.2 stocking density throughout the seven month qualifying period of 1 April to 31 October.

Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances is defined as 'unusual circumstances outside the control of the trader, the consequences of which, in spite of the exercise of all due care, could not have been avoided except at the cost of excessive sacrifice'.

The Single Application Form to apply under the Force Majeure/Exceptional Circumstances provisions will be available from Wednesday next (17 April) for farmers to:

Collect from and return to their local DARD Direct Office to forward to Orchard House; or

Download from the DARD internet site and return to their local DARD Direct Office to forward to Orchard House; or

Complete on line and forward to Orchard House electronically

Committee Membership:

Mr Paul Frew – Chairperson
Mr Joe Byrne – Deputy Chairperson
Mr Thomas Buchanan
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mrs Jo-Anne Dobson
Mr William Irwin
Mr Declan McAleer
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Oliver McMullan
Mr Ian Milne
Mr Robin Swann

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