Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has expressed serious concern that DAERA has not bid to the Department for Finance for any of the additional COVID funding which was announced by the Finance Minister.
The party’s agriculture spokesperson said:
“At the AERA committee on Thursday I asked what bids the Department had made in response to the urgent call by the Finance Minister for bids and was astonished to learn that the Department has not identified any additional need and as such has not submitted any bids.
“Farmers and rural community organisations were at the forefront of the response to COVID and many of these same organisations are carrying substantial overheads and running costs for building that are not currently in use due to the restrictions.
“Farmers also feeling the brunt of a collapse in demand for steak and other high value cuts but have to keep producing food while adhering to COVID safety guidelines.
“Many of these primary producers are hill farmers and they are experiencing the additional pressures of no ANC payment and extra losses due to the Ministers decision to halt the transition towards a flat rate of Single Farm Payment entitlements.
“I believe that a scheme could be developed within the next few weeks to help these and other sectors impacted.
“I just find it unacceptable that the Department has not identified any need for additional funds despite the urgent call for bids.
“This will result in lost opportunities and I feel strongly that rural communities are being let down in this regard.”