Pig farmers in NI will get financial support from the agri food sector’s COVID-19 fund, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has confirmed.

It stems from Cranswick Country Foods’ pig processing factory closing for a two-week period in late August due to coronavirus cases among staff. Local pork producers faced delays in getting pigs slaughtered and prices took a hit when the site reopened.

Exports to China from the Cullybackey site also stopped because of the shutdown, but the market has since re-opened after the factory was remotely inspected by Chinese officials.

Minister Poots said details of the support scheme for pig farmers will be announced “in the next few weeks” and payments should not be expected until the new year.

It will be funded from leftover money from the £25m coronavirus support package which was put up by the Stormont Executive earlier this year.

DAERA added a further £3.6m to the budget and £21.3m was initially allocated to schemes for the dairy, beef, sheep, potato, and ornamental horticulture sectors. It meant that over £7m was leftover for further support if required.

The UFU is pressing for support to be made available to poultry producers that have broiler breeders. A case has also been made for sheep farmers who have received record low prices for wool.

“The UFU and Ulster Wool are quantifying the loss and we are putting that before the minister. It would be wrong of me to call it either way at the minute, but we are getting no indication as yet that they are prepared to do anything on wool,” said UFU president Victor Chestnutt.