£25m boost for beef and dairy in Northern Ireland

The cash injection is the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for the agriculture sector
The cash injection is the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for the agriculture sector

A £25m funding boost for the Northern Irish beef and dairy sectors has been announced to help farmers grapple with the impact of Covid-19.

The Northern Irish Executive announced the financial support, which has been described as a 'lifeline' for struggling farming businesses.

The cash injection is the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for the agriculture sector during the coronavirus emergency.

NI farming minister Edwin Poots said the funding package reflected the 'deep and complex challenges' the industry faced.



“We know that with falling demand and prices for beef and dairy products, many farm businesses have been amongst the hardest hit.

"This will be a lifeline for many businesses and reflects the Executive’s commitment to supporting the sectors," he said.



Mr Poots added that the pandemic had also caused issues for the horticulture sector in Northern Ireland, which sells more than £25m worth of products each year.

Many growers, however, have had to dispose of unsalable products: "The recent re-opening of garden centres has given the industry a much needed boost and will go some way towards helping the sector recoup some of its loses," Mr Poots said.

“I will monitor the impacts of Covid-19 on the horticulture sector over the next few weeks to assess the level of financial support required.”

Work is set to begin on how best to allocate funding for the beef and dairy businesses in Northern Ireland that are most in need.

The fund has been welcomed by the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), adding that the package was the result of lobbying from the union.

"Minister Poots has displayed a strong understanding for the needs of our farmers at this difficult time and now we urge DAERA to try and seek extra funding for our farmers," UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said.

“We would also ask DAERA to get discussions with industry stakeholders underway as soon as possible.”