A Covid-19 support fund worth £4 million for Northern Ireland's pig and poultry sectors has today opened for applications.
Pig and poultry producers are able to apply for financial support as part of the government's Covid support measures.
The £4m fund is being made available to farmers who saw their income fall last year due to the impact of the pandemic.
For the pig sector, many producers incurred financial loss when the processing plant they supplied was temporarily closed due to an outbreak within the workforce.
NI Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: "This financial support will address the effects of the temporary loss of the lucrative Chinese export market, additional penalties on overweight and overfat pigs, and the price impact of alternative pig marketing arrangements."
For the poultry sector, farmers producing parent stock and hatching eggs for Moy Park Ltd saw falling demand for hatching eggs last year.
"This support will address the financial impact of depleting laying flocks earlier than normal, and the cash flow consequences of longer intercrop periods for both rearing and laying farms,” he added.
“I am pleased that over £19m has already been paid out by DAERA to farm businesses impacted by the pandemic and this financial support has been helpful in these difficult times.”
Responding to the news, the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said farmers would be 'relieved' at the progress being made to get the funding rolled out.
The union's deputy president William Irvine said: "Our pig producers have been patiently waiting for this update since it was announced earlier in the year, while our poultry producers awaited confirmation of funding.
“The support package will help to cover a proportion of the losses incurred by pig producers including the temporary loss of the Chinese export market and overweight deductions for heavy pigs as a result of the closure.
"However, it will not cover the total losses that producers endured."
Eligible farm businesses in the pig and poultry sectors will receive a letter inviting them to apply for the support package, the NI government said.
Producers must complete the application form available on DAERA Online Services from today (15 March) to Wednesday 24 March 2021.