Cull sow support fund expected to open for applications within weeks

Applications for a £2 million Covid-19 financial support package for cull sows are likely to open within the next few weeks.

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots announced the £2 million cull sow support scheme earlier this month.

The financial support package worth up to £2 million will be paid to pig farmers who have been impacted by the collapse in cull sow market prices in the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I met recently with representatives of pig farmers to hear about the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their businesses. Local pig farmers are dependent on export markets in Europe and China to return value in the sale price of their culls sows.

“These markets have been significantly depressed in the past year but now there seems to be some signs of recovery and prices are improving again.”

The minister added: “This support will be a contribution towards the losses incurred by these farmers in the past year.

“It will help to address the cash flow difficulties and financial impact of low cull sows prices on the sustainability of their business.”

When the scheme opens later this year, eligible farmers will be contacted and asked to complete a simple application form to claim their payments.

Wool support

A financial support package worth up to £1.27 million was also announced for sheep farmers who have been impacted by poor wool prices over the past year following the crash in the global market for wool as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing the package, Minister Poots said: “Over the past year I have met with representatives of the sheep and wool sectors on a regular basis to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the global wool market and the resulting impact for local farmers.

“I recognise the financial impact that the downturn in the wool market has had on sheep farmers. To offset the losses incurred in their returns from wool sales, I am pleased to announce £1.27 million support from the Covid-19 fund.

“This financial support will compensate for losses incurred and encourage farmers to value the wool that they produce as it is a sustainable natural product that has wonderful potential in many different product areas.”

Further details and eligibility information for both support packages will be published on the DAERA website once applications open.