UFU chief: Farmers’ livelihoods at risk after flash floods

Tyrone farmer Ashley McKelvey shows UFU leaders Ivor Ferguson and Barclay Bell around his flooded farmyard and fields. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Tyrone farmer Ashley McKelvey shows UFU leaders Ivor Ferguson and Barclay Bell around his flooded farmyard and fields. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

Some farmers in the north-west have been left facing an uncertain future after flash floods caused devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Swathes of farm land was decimated and thousands of animals were swept away on night when 63% of the average rainfall for all of August came down in around nine hours.

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell told the News Letter he feared that some of those affected by the flash floods could lose their livelihoods.

Describing his shock at the scale of the destruction, Mr Bell said grown men had been reduced to tears as their life’s work had literally been washed away.

He said: “I have visited a number of farms in the affected areas to see the extensive damage from the storm first hand and offer my support.

“I was shocked and saddened by what I saw. Fields and sheds flooded, livestock lost, roads and bridges washed away, and family homes affected.

“Scenes of sheer devastation and the very real possibility that, for some, livelihoods may be lost.”

Mr Bell said he visited one young family who lost their entire poultry flock and one of their poultry houses is so badly damaged that it will likely need to be demolished.

He added that while the loss of livestock was a major blow for farmers, he said the main problem was the decimation of farm land.

“I spoke to one farmer who lost 30 acres of land in a landslide,” Mr Bell said.

“Livestock can be replaced, but land cannot. It could take up to 10 years to get some of the affected land back to where it was before the floods hit.”

Chicken processor Moy Park confirmed that around 55,000 adult birds were killed by the flood waters at two farms in Co Tyrone.

A DAERA spokesperson said its was working with these two farmers to provide help and guidance.

“We will also provide advice to ensure all carcasses are disposed of properly,” he added.