Legislation covering the latest coronavirus support schemes for the sheep, pigs and potato sectors have been published by DAERA.

The support payment for wool will be available to NI sheep farmers at a rate of £1.40/ewe. Payments will be based on the number of ewes that each farmer declared in their 2019 annual inventory.

In April, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots announced that £1.27m would be set aside to support farmers who were affected by poor wool prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This budget will be used in full if the £1.40/head payment is claimed on all 905,800 ewes which were recorded on NI farms in the 2019 inventory.

The legislation was approved by Stormont’s agriculture committee last week and is due to come into force on 27 July 2021.

Applications for the scheme are likely to open shortly after that and it is understood DAERA are aiming to issue payments to sheep farmers in late August or early September.

Pigs and potatoes

The new legislation also contains details of the latest coronavirus support for the pig and potato sectors.

A payment of £73/sow will be available to pig producers who exported sows for direct slaughter between 1 May 2020 and 31 March 2021. At present, cull sows in NI are mainly slaughtered in Britain or the Republic of Ireland.

The £2m support package from DAERA was made available after depressed export markets in China and Europe led to lower cull sow prices for producers.

Meanwhile, the new £2m coronavirus support scheme for potato growers will pay £127/t for crops that were grown during the 2020 season for processing or seed potato markets, but were not sold.

Growers who sold potatoes for livestock feed, anaerobic digestion or starch production at reduced prices will be able to claim support at a rate of £147/t minus the price they received from the alternative outlet.