Farmers have appealed to government officials to mitigate the consequences of closing down a major pig processing site following a Covid-19 outbreak.
Production at Cranswick Country Foods factory, Co Antrim has temporarily halted following the discovery of a Covid-19 cluster amongst workers.
The factory is one of the main meat processing sites in NI for pigs and has been closed for two weeks.
Cranswick, one of the UK's largest pig processors, said the health and safety of all its colleagues was its number one priority.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has been involved in talks with Northern Ireland (NI) Ministers, government officials and pig processors regarding the ongoing situation.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said farmers held 'grave concerns' about the closure and the potential serious short and long term consequences.
"The factory is a central part of the pig trade in NI, processing thousands of pigs every week," he said.
"The UFU is asking all industry representatives to get around the table to discuss and explore all options to prevent a serious backlog."
He said there should be more help to relieve extra pressure building on pig farmers who do not have the facilities to house pigs for longer than initially planned.
"Action needs to be taken now to ensure this situation does not develop into a major crisis," Mr Chestnutt added.
“The UFU will continue to work closely with processors and the Department of Agriculture and Health, to seek an urgent resolution to prevent as little disruption to the pig trade as possible.”