A financial support package worth up to £1.27m has been announced by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots for NI sheep farmers affected by poor wool prices over the past year.
A date for the scheme to open has not been confirmed by DAERA, with a statement simply setting out that it will be “later this year”, with eligible farmers contacted and asked to complete an application form.
It is the latest scheme to be announced to help cover losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2020, the Stormont Executive approved a £25m support fund requested by Minister Poots.
There is also some money in his 2021/22 budget, with Finance Minister Conor Murphy announcing on 1 April 2021 that £5m was available for the new financial year.
At the start of March 2021, DAERA information provided to the Stormont Agriculture Committee highlighted that 11,300 businesses across the dairy, beef, sheep and potato sectors had received a total of £19.2m.
Since then, £2.2m was announced for pig producers affected by a two-week closure of the Cranswick factory in Cullbackey last August, with an additional £2m going to help cover losses incurred in the hatching egg sector.
On Thursday 1 April, Minister Poots announced a £2m package for pig producers adversely hit by the collapse in prices for cull sows last year.
There is also provision in the relevant legislation to make payments to suppliers of organic milk to either Dale Farm or Emerald Organics.
Meanwhile, the UFU has met with Minister Poots and pressed him to come forward with a new scheme to support those supplying the processing potato market.
The first support package for potato producers, announced last September, helped cover losses incurred when selling the 2019 crop in the period from 17 March to 31 July 2020.
But according to the UFU, those selling the 2020 crop of processing potatoes have faced an even more difficult market than last year.