185 Northern Ireland farmers are expected to be eligible for a new £1.6 million Covid-19 pig producer support scheme for those affected by market crashes during the pandemic.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots announced that applications to the scheme can now be made now through the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) website. All applications must be submitted by August 12, 2021.

The department has written to all eligible pig producers this week. Only those who are considered eligible for the Pig Producer support scheme will have the option to complete the application.

Announcing the pig producer support support scheme, Minister Poots said: “I am pleased that my department has been able to once again secure £1.6 million in support for those pig producers who have seen a significant fall in the price they received for cull sows from May 2020.

"I am hopeful that this funding will help, and the 185 eligible pig producers will submit an application to offset their loss.

“I met with stakeholders including the Ulster Farmers Union and I am grateful to them for their input and providing evidence of verifiable losses that supported the successful development of these schemes,” Minister Poots added.

Those who are eligible for the scheme have received a letter inviting them to apply, and I would encourage them to do so before the closing date of August 12, 2021.”

He added: “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic over £23.5 million has already been paid out by DAERA to local farm businesses impacted and this financial support has been very helpful in these difficult times.”

Explanatory information and guidance has also been published here on the DAERA website.