Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man snow: £600k farming support package proposed

Sheep trapped in a gully
Image caption Thousands of animals were trapped under heavy in the Isle of Man during March

A £600k government support package has been proposed to help Manx farmers affected by livestock losses caused by March's extreme snowfall.

The details of the scheme, which would work on a sliding scale, were announced by the island's agriculture minister in Tynwald.

Phil Gawne said about 100 farmers could benefit from the money.

About 15,000 livestock, mainly sheep and cattle, died as a result of the island's worst snowfall for 50 years.

Mr Gawne, member of the House of Keys, said his department was working with the farming industry to develop the scheme's details.

'Sliding scale'

He said: "There will be a sliding scale with the farmers who suffered the highest percentage of losses receiving the largest percentage of support."

The money will come from the Agricultural Development Fund and topped up by the Treasury over the next two years.

Farmers not eligible for direct support will be able to apply for low interest loans.

The proposals will be brought before Tynwald in July and if approved the funds will be made available during August.

The snowfall coincided with lambing and calving season and Mr Gawne said farmers were still "counting the cost of the disaster".

According to the Manx government, the impact of extreme weather will cost the farming community more than £1m.

March's snowfall was the heaviest since 1963 with the worst hit areas on the west coast.

About 90% of the Isle of Man is given over to agricultural production with about 450 farms, some with thousands of livestock.

It is estimated more than 10% of all the sheep on the island died as a result of being buried in the snow, although some farmers may have lost in the region of 70% of their stock.

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