Sheep farmers in Northern Ireland will receive a COVID-19 support fund of £1.27m.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says sheep farmers who have suffered poor wool prices due to the impact of coronavirus on the global market will finally receive much-needed support.
The package was announced by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots on Friday 2 April.
UFU hill farming chair Nigel McLaughlin said: “The news that the DAERA Minister has granted COVID-19 support worth £1.27m to sheep farmers will be well received by our members.
“It is very positive news which we have been hoping for, for a very long time, and it will help to compensate the losses our sheep farmers incurred from wool sales.
“Sheep producers have felt the impact of the collapsed wool market for the past year, with no signs of things improving until very recently.
“The UFU, alongside the National Sheep Association and Ulster Wool, have been lobbying continuously since summer 2020 to get funding secured.
“We thank the DAERA Minister for acknowledging the downturn of wool prices and our concerns."
He added that Northern Ireland has only one grading depot located in Muckamore, Co Antrim, and the UFU wanted to ensure that it survives and remains open in future for the benefit of sheep producers.
“The volume of wool Ulster Wool receives from farmers is crucial to sustaining the grading depot and we hope this support will create an increase in wool distribution to the depot going forward.”
The UFU has urged DAERA to progress as quickly as possible with getting the financial support rolled out, so that sheep farmers affected by the pandemic can benefit right away.