The £25m support package for the agriculture and horticulture sectors must be targeted towards those most in need, evidence-based and distributed on an equitable basis, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has said.
The Minister made the comments following a Private Members’ Motion in the Assembly this week on the issue. Speaking after the Motion, the Minister said: “In May, the NI Executive announced funding of £25m for a Covid-19 support package – the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for the agriculture and horticulture sectors during the Coronavirus emergency.
“Since then, I have consulted with numerous industry representatives and stakeholders, including organisations, businesses and farmers from the red meat supply chain, the dairy processors and farmers and the farming unions to hear their analysis of the impacts of the pandemic and their proposals for allocation of the £25m. During those discussions, there was a clear acceptance of the need for support to be targeted at those farm business hardest hit financially as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Minister was clear about his approach: “This is not about singling out specific sectors or farm types, this is about stabilising our entire agricultural community by helping those hit hardest, deal with short term disruptions that would substantially threaten otherwise viable businesses.
“It is my intention to ensure the funding is driven towards those most in need and those who can clearly demonstrate tangible loses as a result of Covid-19. Those working in the industry, or who have a clear understanding of how it operates, will know that by taking this approach, the ripple effect will help support our agricultural communities and ensure that businesses can be sustainable and continue trading in the long term.
“I will make my decision on how best to allocate this funding in the near future.”
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