£4 million Covid support fund opens for NI pig and poultry farmers

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced the opening of a £4 million Covid-19 Support Scheme for eligible pig and poultry producers from Monday (March 15).

Speaking about the scheme, Minister Poots said: “I am very pleased to report that £4 million of support is being made available to pig and poultry producers who saw their income fall last year due to the impact of Covid-19.”

Last year, I met with representatives of pig farmers who incurred financial loss when the processing plant they supplied was temporarily closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 within the workforce.

“This financial support will address the effects of the temporary loss of the lucrative Chinese export market, additional penalties on overweight and overfat pigs, and the price impact of alternative pig marketing arrangements.

“I also met with representatives of poultry farmers producing parent stock and hatching eggs for Moy Park Ltd., and recognised the financial impact that falling demand for hatching eggs, particularly in international markets and interdependencies within the supply chain, had on the local industry.

“This support will address the financial impact of depleting laying flocks earlier than normal, and the cash flow consequences of longer intercrop periods for both rearing and laying farms.”

How to apply

Eligible farm businesses in the pig and poultry sectors will receive a letter inviting them to apply for the support package, with instructions on how to access the application form and receive help to complete it.

To be eligible, pig producers must have supplied pigs to Cranswick Country Foods Ltd between September 4 and November 7, 2020.

Poultry producers must have produced broiler breeder pullets or broiler hatching eggs and impacted negatively by the market disruption caused by Covid-19 in the period March 23, 2020, to January 31, 2021.

Since other government support measures are available to agricultural and horticultural businesses, the rate of compensation for losses incurred has been set 80%.

Those wishing to claim must complete the application form available on DAERA Online Services before March 24, 2021.

Explanatory information and guidance will also be published on the DAERA website from Monday (March 15).