It’s raining again

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The scale of the damage wrought by this week’s bad weather west of the Bann is now becoming apparent.

Under the circumstances prevailing, the authorities will have to step up and provide some form of aid package for those producers most affected.

I am aware of one family, whose entire poultry enterprise has been wiped out. Irrespective of what insurance cover is available for the premises destroyed, it will be at least two years before the people could ever hope to re-build and be in a position to generate any form of income again from their business.

Farmers are used to working with the weather. And, in the vast majority of cases, they are happy to take it on the chin when the elements don’t play ball. Sometimes, I don’t think that consumers fully realise the continuing effort put in by farmers in order to have food in the shops every day of the week.

Livestock farmers can’t take weekends off. Their animals need cared for 24:7. And when the weather really turns nasty, as we have seen this week, what is normally a hard-enough job - in a physical sense - turns into brutal, hard work.

Exceptional weather can affect people living in towns and cities in the same way that it can impact on farming businesses. I can well recall parts of Belfast being flooded some years ago, at which stage emergency aid was made available to the affected householders. And that was only right and proper. The people involved were caught up in a crisis that was not of their making.

In a similar vein, the farmers in Counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Derry, who were so badly affected by this week’s atrocious weather, need help. And they need it now.

I had a friend on the phone with me earlier this week, suggesting that we could be facing into another 1985 weather scenario.

For those not old enough to remember that awful year, it started raining the week after Balmoral Show. And it didn’t stop until mid-October. The experts at the time called it a ‘once in a century meteorological event’.

Let’s just hope they were right.