Land in the northwest which was damaged by floods and landslides in 2017 will be eligible for a £4,092 per hectare payment if it is classified as severely disadvantaged area or disadvantaged area.

However, a much lower payment rate of £729/ha will be applied to lowland areas which were impacted by the unprecedented weather event.

The £3.45m support package was announced by Agriculture Minster Edwin Poots in April and details of the scheme are contained in a new document which was published by DAERA on Tuesday.

Farmers will be able to apply for the scheme through “a simple online form” and applications will open in August 2021. “It is anticipated that payments will be made in late August 2021,” scheme guidance reads.

Only those who submitted a force majeure form back in 2017 can apply. The form allowed farmers to claim area-based payments on land which was damaged by floods or landslides and no longer met land eligibility rules.

Figures obtained by the Irish Farmers Journal at the time indicate that 223 farm businesses in NI applied for force majeure across 1,080ha of land. Most of the affected farmers are located in the valleys of the Glenelly, Owenkillew and Faughan rivers.

Lost income

DAERA guidance states that the support scheme is specifically designed to cover lost income due to flooded land, as well as the costs incurred with removing debris and reseeding.

“The scheme does not include compensation for loss of livestock and goods, or damage to buildings as these are all insurable losses,” the document reads. On rented land, it should be the farmer and not the landowner who will receive the payment under the scheme. This is because it should have been the farmer who was claiming area-based payments on the land in 2017 and was therefore required to submit the force majeure form.

DAERA state that evidence of lost income or costs associated with clearing land will not be needed in the application process. Instead, all payments will be based on the self-declared area on the 2017 force majeure form and DAERA’s existing classification of the land type.