The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is a positive outcome that the £25m coronavirus COVID-19 support package provided by the NI Executive for farming businesses in Northern Ireland that suffered significant financial losses due to the pandemic, will be distributed among a range of affected agriculture sectors. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots, confirmed today which sectors would benefit from the COVID-19 support and how much they would receive.
UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, “We lobbied for numerous weeks presenting our views to Minister Poots and the NI Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, highlighting how the region’s agri-food industry was significantly impacted financially by COVID-19. It is good to see that Minister Poots listened to our concerns and allocated the funding to a range of different farming sectors that have been affected by the virus. The support will be of huge benefit to those farming families across NI in these farming sectors. It will help to stabilise the agriculture industry in its entirety, making sure we come out the other side of this pandemic together in a position that allows us to build towards a brighter future.
“Considering the tight time frame, Minister Poots did a fantastic job working on behalf of NI farmers, many of whom have been struggling since the pandemic began. Our members are grateful of the support given by the NI Executive during this difficult time. They recognised the immense efforts of our farmers who have been playing their part as key workers during this pandemic, overcoming numerous challenges to continue producing quality food for the nation so that consumers could purchase essential products when needed.
“NI is the only devolved region in the UK to get such a financial support package and we now hope that a relatively quick delivery process is established and the financial support gets distributed as quickly as possible so that farming families affected financially by the virus can benefit straight away. We believe Minister Poots made the right call by retaining some of the £25m along with the additional £3.6m that was reprioritised internally for future needs as we do not know what lies ahead. The remaining COVID-19 funding could be provided to farming sectors who experience market disruption down the line, and it is therefore essential to have this financial support available in the wings should we need it.”