The allocation of a coronavirus support package for Northern Ireland has been announced by DAERA Minister Edwin Poots.
The dairy sector will receive £11m, beef finishers will get £7m, the potato and ornamental horticulture sectors will receive between £1.2m and 1.6m each and sheep producers will get £232,000.
It means DAERA has approximately £3.6m left over from the original £25m package that came from the Department of Finance in May, plus an additional £3.6m of DAERA funding that was allocated earlier this month.
“This would allow me to address additional issues and challenges COVID-19 may present in the weeks and months ahead. As far as I am aware, this is the most comprehensive support scheme for our primary producers available anywhere within the EU,” Minister Poots said.
The support is being allocated by DAERA officials to cover 80% of losses in the dairy, potato and horticulture sectors, but 100% of losses in the beef and sheep sectors.
This is to reflect that beef and sheep farmers typically received less support under the UK government’s self-employed income support scheme, as it was based on average profits from annual accounts.
Payments under the initial £21.4m package from DAERA are to be made in August. The department is to write to eligible farmers over the coming weeks giving details of how to apply.
The exact level of support for dairy farmers is still to be calculated, but is likely to equate to around 1.2p/l on milk produced in March, April, May and June.
It is based on a reference price of 26.7p/l, which was the average NI milk price during February.
However, any milk that was sold under a fixed-price contract which paid more than 26.7p/l will not be eligible for the support.
Beef and lamb
Payments to beef finishers will be £40/head on all cattle killed from mid-February to the end of June. An additional payment of £33/head will be available on cattle slaughtered during a seven-week period from the third week in March.
In the sheep sector, payments of £6.88/head will be made on all NI lambs killed in factories located across the island of Ireland during a four-week period in the spring.
Read more in this week’s NI edition of the Irish Farmers Journal and at www.ifj.ie/ni.
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