UFU deputy president, Barclay Bell joined UFU members in North-East Armagh to see the severe damage caused to grassland as a result of the winter floods.
“It is only now when the floods have finally subsided that we can see how the flood damage is impacting on our member’s businesses in what is an already very difficult year,” he said.
“It is only now when the floods have finally subsided that we can see how the flood damage is impacting on our member’s businesses in what is an already very difficult year.”Barclay Bell, UFU deputy president
Mr Bell’s visit followed a regional review of winter flooding with senior government officials. This looked at the causes, the issues faced by those affected and the current management and operating regime to control water levels in Lough Neagh. A case was made for a review of how effective the response by various agencies had been.
The UFU also held a series of meetings with its members affected by flooding in the Lough Erne and Lough Neagh areas.
“The duration has left many fields effectively useless for farming. Swards have completely disappeared or been left as clumps of rotting grass. Normally at this time of year farmers look forward to turning out livestock. However for now people are going to have to keep their cattle housed and focus on reseeding,” said Mr Bell.
The UFU will continue to press the Rivers Agency and the Executive to put in place a strategy to deliver long term solutions to increasingly frequent flooding problems.
“Farmers are facing added financial pressure this year – and flooding will happen again unless there is a serious commitment from the Rivers Agency to carry out remedial work,” said Mr Bell.
He also stressed that it was not only farm businesses, but the wider rural community that had been affected.
“Families having to travel by boat or tractor along flooded roads for over a month is not in any way acceptable and could well lead to a serious accident. This is an issue government cannot ignore simply because the floods are in rural areas,” warned Mr Bell.