On 19 May 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive agreed a support package of £25 million to help alleviate this emerging threat to NI farm incomes. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), in consultation with industry representatives and stakeholders, has examined the nature and extent of the financial losses that have been incurred. There is clear acceptance of the need for support to be targeted at those farm businesses hardest hit financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the 30 June, the Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs announced the sectors that will be eligible for funding from the support package. The sectors to be supported are diary, beef, sheep, potato and ornamental horticulture. The schemes that have been developed are targeted towards providing support to those most in need, are evidence-based and will be distributed on an equitable basis. Support is not based on location or on entire sectors.
£21.4M of the £25M will be allocated as shown (indicative figures):
- Support for the Dairy Sector - £11m (80% losses covered);
- Support for the Beef Sector - £7m (100% losses covered);
- Support for the Sheep Sector - £232k (100% losses covered);
- Support for the Potato Sector - up to £1.6m (80% losses covered);
- Support for the Ornamental Horticulture Sector - up to £1.6m (80% losses covered).
Since other support measures are available to agricultural and horticultural businesses, rates of compensation for losses incurred have been set at 100%-80%, depending on the nature of the business and other support already available.
The remaining £3.6M (from the £25M agreed by the Executive) plus a further £3.6M from within DAERA’s existing budget will be held in reserve to address additional issues and challenges that COVID-19 may present in the future.
‘Schemes are closed for applications’
Guidance and Q&A and supporting documentation are available to download below.