Published Monday, 29 April 2013
Farmers have lost thousands of sheep to the cold. (© Presseye)
Department of Agriculture officials have been collecting and disposing of livestock following the extreme weather in late March which devastated farms across Northern Ireland.
Some rural parts of Co Down and Co Antrim were buried under 18ft snow drifts.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill revealed that 43,000 sheep and goat carcasses have been recovered as of Thursday.
The total includes 30,413 lambs, 12,553 ewes and rams and 34 goats. A further 1159 cattle have also been found.
"I have obtained Executive agreement to hardship funding measures to assist farmers worst affected by livestock losses arising from the recent snow storm," said the Sinn Féin minister.
"The first element of this is that my department will pay for the costs of collection and disposal of fallen stock from the farmers most severely affected.
"This relieves those farmers of a potential cost to their business and protects both the environment and animal health by encouraging the proper disposal of fallen stock."
She added that she intends to bring to the Stormont ministerial Executive proposals for a hardship scheme.
"The hardship scheme will be specifically for livestock losses and help to mitigate the costs of the livestock losses that have been sustained by farmers arising from the snow storm," Ms O'Neill continued.
"This will be capped at a maximum of £6,320 per farmer, including the collection and disposal costs of the fallen animals. Farmers who have fallen stock collected and disposed of during 2-19 April by approved renderers will be eligible for the hardship funding.
"The hardship scheme will be framed in light of the information gathered on the extent and nature of losses, which we will build as farmers have stock removed and disposed of by the approved renderers."
© UTV News