Flat Sum EU ‘Dairy Crisis’ Payments Begin Rolling Out To Local Farmers

Payments aimed at easing the financial burden on local farmers caught up in the current crisis engulfing the dairy industry began to roll out this week.

The industry hit crisis levels during 2015 following significant drops in farmgate prices for milk. Farmers claimed they were losing as much as 10p on every litre produced.

The EU reacted by announcing a £365m aid package, including £29m for the UK. An extra £1.1m was allocated for Northern Ireland following intense lobbying by DARD, agri-food bodies and the north’s three MEPs.

Last month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London said £5.1million from the EU Dairy Fund would be directed to farmers in the north.

On Monday, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill confirmed the payments began at the start of this week.

Some £3.6m was paid to 2,250 farmers, equating to an average of £1,600 each. peaking on Monday, Ms O’Neill said, “Tackling the plight of our dairy farmers, who have been experiencing a prolonged period of severely depressed prices as a result of the global dairy crisis, remains a priority for me.

“I have made significant efforts to impress upon my counterparts in Britain, Dublin and Brussels the need for a swift and effective response from the EU Commission and for recognition of the extreme impact of the crisis on our farmers here.”


Ms O’Neill said the north’s allocation accounted for almost one fifth of the UK total, which she said highlighted “the unique and difficult circumstances” here.

“The payment of a higher flat rate to the north’s farmers is clear recognition of our exceptional case,” she said.

With legislation already in place, DARD’s Rural Payments Agency (RPA) began paying out sums on Monday.

The initial tranche was made to dairy farmers for whom the RPA hold up-to-date banking details, which totals around 2,250 (just over 71%).

DARD have said those still waiting for their details to be checked and verified will follow at the earliest opportunity, with a target set of all payments being made by the end of the year. Accordingly, Michelle O’Neill encouraged all eligible recipients to ensure that DARD has the most up-to-date information available.

The Minister added, “I would like to thank the RPA for the effort it put in to making the majority of these payments two weeks ahead of schedule. These payments will go some way towards easing the immediate cashflow concerns of our farmers.

“I will continue to explore every avenue to support our farmers at this challenging time, and fully intend to keep up the pressure on Phil Hogan to review an increase to intervention prices to provide a greater safety net for farmers and to assist the market to stabilise.”

Source: ulsterherald.com