NI unveils £21.4m Covid-19 fund to help farming sectors

A support package has been provided by the NI Executive for farmers that suffered significant financial losses due to the pandemic
A support package has been provided by the NI Executive for farmers that suffered significant financial losses due to the pandemic

A £21.4m fund has been unveiled to help the Northern Irish beef, dairy, sheep, potato and ornamental horticulture sectors impacted by the coronavirus.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has outlined the agriculture sectors eligible for the financial aid.

Northern Ireland is the only devolved region in the United Kingdom to get such a support package for its farming industry.

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said the fund would be of 'huge benefit' to farming businesses across the region.



Agriculture minister Edwin Poots confirmed farm businesses were able to avail of the funding to help offset losses incurred as a result of short term market disturbance.

“Covid-19 was a shock to the agri-food industry and caused a significant downturn in the trading ability of the sector," Mr Poots said.



"I made the case that the industry should be supported by the NI Executive during this difficult period and on 19 May, the NI Executive agreed a support package to help alleviate the emerging threat to NI farm incomes."

He added: “Since other support measures are available to businesses, rates of compensation for losses incurred have been set at 100% or 80% - depending on the nature of the business and other support already available.”

However, Mr Poots said he wanted to be 'prudent' with the funding as the government cannot rule out the possibility of further market disturbance as a result of the pandemic.

“For that reason, I want to retain a budget of just over £7m based on the residual funding of £3.6m (from the £25m) and £3.6m that has been reprioritised internally within my department," he added.

Breakdown of the £21.4m Covid-19 fund

• Support for the Beef Sector - £7m (100% losses covered)

• Support for the Dairy Sector - £11m (80% losses covered)

• Support for the Sheep Sector - £232k (100% losses covered)



• Support for the Potato Sector - £1.2 – 1.6m (80% losses covered)

• Support for the Ornamental Horticulture Sector – £1.2m - £1.6m (80% losses covered)