Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill has established a taskforce to support farmers affected by the continuing poor weather.
The minister has tasked her officials to work with industry stakeholders to review the situation following the prolonged spell of poor weather which has impacted on grazing conditions for livestock.
The minister said: “We are currently experiencing wet, cool weather which has had a significant negative impact on grazing conditions for livestock and this has been combined with a late spring leading to a sharp rise in fodder costs.
“My officials met industry stakeholders today and reported back to me. I will be bringing to the Executive my assessment of the difficulties facing the industry, and seeking support.
“I have also decided to set up a taskforce of the interested parties to look at what we can do immediately and to mitigate future problems.
“There are many good things already happening.
“The feed companies have available forage replacement rations. There are farmers assisting neighbours whose supplies of fodder are running low.
“The banks are making credit available, and I would particularly commend the initiative by the Ulster Bank which has made up to £10 million of additional funding available.
“I have also tasked CAFRE advisers and Veterinary staff to prioritise their work to advise and assist farmers who are currently experiencing difficulties on their farms.
“The DARD Helpline is available and I would encourage farmers who have significant difficulties to contact the helpline on 0300 2007843.
“Advisors will offer a range of services, including using their local knowledge to put farmers without fodder in contact with sources of supply.
“My officials will continue to monitor the situation across the north and bring this information to the taskforce.
“ I have asked to be regularly updated, and that the taskforce brings forward recommendations to me by the end of May.”