'Serious financial hit': NI farmers lobby for more Covid-19 support

Farming groups have created a case to help secure funding worth £13.2m for the beef sector and £270,000 for the lamb sector
Farming groups have created a case to help secure funding worth £13.2m for the beef sector and £270,000 for the lamb sector

Northern Irish farmers are lobbying for more support directed at beef and lamb producers who have taken a 'serious financial hit' due to the Covid-19 crisis.

A £25m funding boost for NI's farming sectors was announced last month to help farmers grapple with the impact of the coronavirus.

But the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said the beef and lamb sectors in particular needed 'appropriate support' as they had been hit hard by the pandemic.

The union, along with red meat stakeholders, have created a case to help secure funding worth £13.2m for the beef sector and £270,000 for the lamb sector.



The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs' (DAERA) farming minister Edwin Poots has now received the evidence to support this request.

The UFU said the Covid-19 fund package announced last month should be allocated to those farmers who had suffered the 'greatest losses'.



The union's beef and lamb chairman, Sam Chesney said: "Beef and sheep farmers are all too aware of financial struggles and the volatility of farmgate prices especially when weighed against input costs. It is something they have been enduring for a few years.

He said that pre-coronavirus, the sector expected beef and lamb prices to rise this year: "The pandemic has only added to the pressure beef and sheep producers were already under, struggling with falling farmgate prices and rising input costs.

"However, Minister Poots has recognised this. He has shown great efforts working on behalf of our beef and sheep producers to secure financial aid for the sectors.

"We are moving in the right direction and now we need to ensure we receive a suitable sum so that all beef and sheep farmers can benefit,” Mr Chesney said.

The beef sector was first hit by the pandemic in late December when the Chinese market went into Covid-19 lockdown, followed by the EU market.

Elsewhere, the wool sector also remains in turmoil due to trade disruptions. The UFU said it was working closely with Ulster Wool and British Wool to address the matter.

“Beef and lamb producers have been getting it from all angles as Covid-19 hit the key financial avenues that farmers depend upon for income," Mr Chesney added.



"However, they continue to do their part during this Covid-19 pandemic, producing high-quality local products for consumers, adhering to some of the highest environmental and animal standards in the world.

"They deserve to receive the necessary support to sustain their family-run farm businesses," he said.