Frew pushes for early payment of Farmers’ hardship cash

LOCAL MLA Paul Frew says that the Hardship Fund for farmers affected by the recent ‘big freeze’ must be delivered in weeks, not months.

Mr Frew, who is Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, said DARD “must deliver on the promises of the Minister sooner rather than later and it should not take months as was suggested by DARD officials at the Committee”.

“I have constantly stated that the Minister was too slow to react in this crisis and too quick to remove air support which could have saved thousands of animals buried in the snow. This has been proven and illustrated yet again only this week when my Constituent Sam Wallace pulled rams out of the snow alive that had been buried for weeks.”

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Mr Frew said the impact to the farming community affected will have three elements - the initial loss of stock and damage to barns, the longer term impact of building up stock and damaged property, and mental stress and anguish.

He added: “The Minister must engage with other Ministers in the Executive to ensure that people are cared for and supported through these times. Sheep and hill farmers are still extremely busy rebuilding their lives and lambing among all other things and it will only be now that they will have time to reflect and measure for themselves the position and plain which they are on...They will need massive support and assistance in pastoral care over the next few weeks and months.”

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