Farmers in North and East Iceland are facing severe frost damage to their farmland after a long period of harsh winter conditions. Thousands of hectares of farmland are in ruins and farmers are expected to spend hundreds of millions of ISK to recultivate their land. The estimated damage is worse than that caused by the blizzard in North Iceland in September last fall, and that of recent volcanic eruptions.
Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
The recently established Icelandic Consultancy Agency for Agriculture (RML) has assisted farmers who request an estimation of the frost damage to their farmland and how large an area is completely destroyed. Representatives of the agency are in the process of visiting farmers. In some parts of the region, the damage is yet to be seen. The frost damage in farmlands so far visited ranges from 30 to 90 percent of farmers’ hayfields. Borgar Páll Bragason, a senior employee at the RML told Morgunblaðið that the purpose of the visits is first and foremost to provide consultation to farmers whose farmland is damaged and to help them find a way to accumulate enough fodder for the winter months to feed farm animals.
The eastern parts of the fjord Skagafjörður, certain areas in Eyjafjörður fjord and the Þingeyjarsýsla counties are among the areas worst hit, as well as the eastern parts of Hérað, Austur-Húnavatnssýsla county, Strandir and Ísafjarðardjúp. In the district of Fljótdalshérað, frost damage is more extensive and common than was to be expected. Farmers are resulting to various actions to counteract the damage, using methods such as massive recultivation, and others use fertilizers on damaged areas in hope that the summer will turn out to be good enough to produce a relatively good harvest.
Representatives for farmers have already presented their case to the Ministry of Industries and Innovation, and the Minister of Agriculture, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, visited North Iceland to see the damage for himself. Bjargráðasjóður, a fund designated to aid farmers when suffering damages due to natural catastrophes, will provide the funding available to assist.
However, funds are limited and no decisions have been made regarding further appropriation of funds. Árni Snæbjarnarson, the fund’s managing director, told Morgunblaðið today that only in the fall when crops are harvested will the total damage be known. “The government needs to treat this situation with the same severity as was done following the volcanic eruptions in South Iceland as well as last fall in the great blizzard of North Iceland. The support it gives to the population affected is a mental reinforcement,” Árni stated.