Covid-19 aid package announced for agriculture
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced the opening of the first Covid-19 Support Scheme, which he says is the most comprehensive and extensive package in the UK and the EU.
More than 11,300 farm businesses in NI will benefit from £21.4m of funding.
Mr Poots has been consulting with stakeholders and industry representatives since the NI Executive approved the aid package in May, and speaking recently, he said:
‘During those discussions it was clearly accepted that financial support should be targeted at the hardest hit farm businesses who suffered verifiable financial loss as a direct result of the pandemic. As a result, I decided to target £21.4m towards businesses in the dairy, beef, sheep, potato and ornamental horticulture sectors.’
Eligible farm businesses in these sectors will be able to apply for the support package by completing a short application available on DAERA Online Services until September 23. These farm businesses will receive payments if they were the qualifying keeper of eligible animals presented for slaughter and/or sold milk during the qualifying periods.
All farm businesses considered eligible by DAERA will receive a letter during the week beginning September 7 providing them with instructions on how to access their application form and receive help to complete it.
‘We cannot rule out the possibility of further market disturbance as a result of this pandemic and the need for support to farm businesses,’ added Mr Poots. ‘For that reason, I have retained a budget of just over £7m…This will allow me to address additional issues and challenges that Covid-19 may present in the weeks ahead.’