Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Government loan scheme considered for Manx farmers

The Isle of Man government is to consider offering loans to help farmers recover after thousands of animals were killed after heavy snow fall in March.

The agriculture department said it is planning to employ a "three-pronged approach" to support the industry.

Alongside a loan scheme it is hoped direct grants will also be given to those famers most severely affected.

Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne said each case would be assessed once the full extent of the damage was known.

The final measure currently being discussed is to provide a re-structuring package to the Manx abattoir, affected by a reduction in the number of animals going to slaughter.

Mr Gawne said: "The latest figures indicate that, collectively, the Isle of Man has lost in the region of about 8,400 animals, that is about 10% of all livestock."

Heavy snow in March caused thousands of sheep and cattle to die after they became buried in snow drifts, some of which reached about 20ft (6m) in parts of the Isle of Man.

Despite a rescue effort involving much of the island's community, some of the worst hit farms are predicting losses of up to 50%.

"I am hoping that, by the end of this week, the government will be able to announce a loan scheme for farmers but emergency payments to support the industry will have to be approved by Tynwald approval, so that could take longer to get in place," continued Mr Gawne.

"What we experienced was the perfect storm- it came at a time when the industry was already facing problems because of the wet summer- the animals weren't as strong as they could have been and then of course it came at the very beginning of the lambing and calving season- the episode has been catastrophic."

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