Covid-19 schemes for agriculture sectors

Date published: 04 September 2020

Last updated: 18 March 2021

This Guide explains the background and eligibility criteria to the following schemes:


Some agricultural and horticultural businesses incurred financial losses as a result of short term market disturbance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 19 May 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive agreed a support package of £25 million to help alleviate this emerging threat to farm incomes. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), in consultation with industry representatives and stakeholders, examined the nature and extent of the financial losses that were incurred. There was 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, Environment and Rural Affairs announced funding of up to £21.4m to address the impacts of market disturbance across the industry including the dairy, beef, sheep, potato and ornamental horticulture sectors.

On 21 January 2021 the Minster announced a support package of up to £2.2m for the Pig sector to offset losses incurred due to the temporary closure of Cranswick Country Foods in August 2020.  The financial support would address the effects of the temporary loss of the lucrative Chinese export market, additional penalties on overweight and overfat pigs and the price impact of alternative pig marketing arrangements.

On 11 February 2021 the Minister announced a support package of up to £2m for the Poultry sector to address the financial impact of falling demand for hatching eggs particularly in international markets and interdependencies within the supply chain.  The support will offset losses for depleting laying flocks earlier than normal and cash flow consequences of longer intercrop periods for both rearing and laying farms.

The schemes that have been developed are targeted towards those most in need and provide a contribution towards financial loss incurred. The qualifying amounts and payment rates applied to each farm business are evidence based, use data provided by food processing businesses and information held by DAERA. Support will be distributed on an equitable basis, and is not based on location or on entire sectors.

  • Support for the Pig Sectors – up to £2.2m (80% losses supported)
  • Support for the Poultry Sectors – up to £2m (80% losses supported)

Since other HM Government and NI Assembly support measures are available to pig and poultry businesses, rates of support to offset losses incurred have been set at 80%, in line with the general approach adopted in other DAERA Covid-19 support schemes.

The scheme is open for applications from Monday 15 March 2021 until midnight on

Wednesday 24 March 2021.

Guidance and Q&A documentation are available to download below.

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