A new support package for NI pig producers, worth up to £2m, has been made available to farmers who were impacted by a backlog of animals, which led to price penalties on overweight pigs. The qualifying period is from September 2021 to February 2022.

Eligible pig producers are to receive a letter this week inviting them to apply through DAERA Online Services.

The qualifying amounts and payment rates will differ across each farm business, and are dependent on a number of factors. According to DAERA, the calculations “are evidence based, use data provided by the pig processing industry and information held by DAERA.” When online, producers can either accept the proposed payments or query how the calculations have been done.

Speaking at the Balmoral Show, DAERA Minister Edwin Poots described the scheme as a “short-term targeted support measure,” adding that partners in the supply chain need to do more if the viability and supply of pigmeat is to be sustained.

Also commenting, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) pork and bacon committee chair, Glenn Cuddy, said the scheme was greatly appreciated, but it “is not going to be enough to save the pig sector overnight.”

However, there are some signs that major UK retailers are responding to the on-going crisis, with Tesco announcing on Monday an extra £6.6m of funding for UK producers, taking total support since the start of March 2022 to £10m.

In a statement, Tesco said it will “work with its suppliers to ensure the investment gets passed to farmers as quickly as possible,” although it remains unclear just how exactly this will be done.

To help clear the backlog on farms, the retailer claimed to have taken on an extra 32,000 pigs since January, with plans to take a further 22,000 in the months ahead. It has also added new fresh UK pork lines and is doing more in-store pork promotions.

“Overall, Tesco has increased its British pork products by 30% compared to last year,” reads the statement.

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