Pig producers to get £1.6m aid in March

Payments are to be issued in March 2023 under an “exceptional costs pig scheme” announced by DAERA last November.

The scheme, put in place following a ministerial direction by Edwin Poots before he left office as Agriculture Minister in October 2022, will pay £6.10 per pig up to a maximum of £54,000 per farm business ID.

The application period opens online at 9am on Tuesday 7 February and runs to midnight on Tuesday 21 February. All NI born and reared pigs, slaughtered at NI factories between 1 April and 30 June 2022 are eligible for the payment.

Dawn to acquire Kildare Chilling

Irish meat processing is set for further consolidation, with reports that Dawn Meats is in advanced stages of a deal to acquire Kildare Chilling

Based outside Kildare town, the company is a significant player in the industry, slaughtering an estimated 70,000 cattle and over 500,000 sheep annually. Included within those sheep numbers are both lambs, and especially cast ewes imported from NI.

Dawn, which also owns Dunbia companies across the UK, is Europe’s leading lamb processor, with a large operation in Wales. It is understood the deal will have to go through the relevant regulatory checks with the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

DAERA late with June census

The latest June census results in NI, which are normally published in December each year, won’t be available until next month, DAERA has confirmed.

On enquiry, a spokesperson for DAERA said that the delay was “to allow extra time for data quality assurance”.

BPS entitlement register available online

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlement registers for 2023 are now available to view on DAERA online services.

The application period to transfer entitlements opens on 1 March 2023, and closes on 2 May.

NICS action plan in response to vet case

A 33-point action plan to improve governance within the NI Civil Service (NICS) has been published, following a review into how DAERA dealt with concerns raised in an industrial tribunal case taken by former vet Dr Tamara Bronckaers.

The review was undertaken by business management consultancy firm PwC and looked at actions taken by those involved in the case, and assessed whether they were in line with NICS policies and procedures.

The review highlights issues in the how the concerns raised were recorded and escalated, how some existing policies were applied and the way in which employment-related legal cases are managed by the NICS.

“We will implement each of the 33 actions so that there is greater confidence that we are delivering the best possible service for the public and our workforce,” said the head of NICS, Jayne Brady.