Applications for the COVID-19 support payments for Northern Irish farmers will open on Monday 7 September.

The initial application window is for the dairy, beef and sheep sectors. It is open for two and half weeks, closing at midnight on Wednesday 23 September.

All 11,351 farm businesses that are eligible for payments under the dairy, beef and sheep schemes will receive letters from DAERA over the coming days. Eligible farmers will be required to complete a short application form on the DAERA website.

DAERA officials are now aiming to get payments issued from early October, ahead of Basic Payments being released from 16 October.

The application window for COVID-19 support payments for the potato sector will be open from 9 September to 30 September. The exact details for the ornamental horticulture scheme, including application dates, are still to be finalised by DAERA officials.

Beef trigger dates

There are two payments for the beef scheme. A payment of £33/head is to be made on all prime cattle and cows slaughtered (or exported for slaughter) between 16 February and 30 June 2020.

This payment will be made to the person who owned the animal at midnight on 15 February. DAERA officials have received this information from the APHIS cattle identification system.

An additional payment of £40/head is available on cattle slaughtered between 29 March and 16 May 2020. This payment will go to the owner of the animal at midnight on 28 March.

Animals that were slaughtered between 29 March and 16 May are therefore eligible for both payments, worth £73/head.

It is possible that an animal will deliver a payment to two separate farm businesses. For example, if an animal is eligible for both payments and it changed hands between the trigger dates of 15 February and 28 March.

Dairy payment

In the dairy sector, payments will be a flat rate of 1.28p/l on all milk supplied from March to June 2020, excluding any milk which was under a fixed price scheme at over 26.68p/l.

DAERA officials state that 912m litres of milk was produced in NI from March to June, and 94% of it is eligible for the support payment.

For Lakeland Dairies suppliers who are part of the fixed price milk scheme, which pays 28p/l from October to March, and 26p/l from April to September, milk supplied under the scheme from April to June will be eligible for the coronavirus payment.

Sheep sector

Sheep farmers will receive £6.88/head on all lambs, hoggets and ewes slaughtered in Northern Ireland factories, or exported for slaughter in the Republic of Ireland, between 22 March and 18 April 2020.

The person who owned the animal at midnight on 21 March is eligible for the payment.

Potato losses

There is a payment of up to £136/t available to potato growers for losses incurred from 17 March to 31 July 2020. This is for potatoes that were either sold at a loss or were not sold at all during the period.

The exact level of support that individual producers will receive depends on the information they provide to DAERA through a more detailed application form.

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