18 May 2001
NI pig outgoers to share 2m

By Alistair Driver

MORE than 300 pig farmers from Northern Ireland will share 2m under the second phase of the pig outgoers scheme.

In all, 500 farmers across the UK will be paid just over 5m through the scheme that was extended because of foot-and-mouth.

Under the scheme, part of the governments 66m pig industry restructuring scheme, grants are paid to pig farmers who want to leave the industry or have left recently.

The original deadline for the scheme was March 30, after which just 432 out of 1237 applicants were successful. They were awarded 10.6m between them.

The foot-and-mouth crisis persuaded the government to re-open the scheme, with outgoers mark 2 offering another 5m. Applications closed on 20 April.

Of the 505 successful applicants, 323 are from Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Department of Agricultural and Rural Development.

This is a big boost for the sector after the majority of Northern Ireland applicants were rejected last time.

Of the other successful applicants160 are from England, 19 are from Scotland and 3 are from Wales.

The English farmers will share 2.77m, the Scottish farmers 210,000 and the Welsh farmers 25,000.

Northern Ireland farm minister Brd Rodgers, announced the results in a letter to the Chairman of the Assembly Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development.

She said the outcome was extremely favourable for the Northern Ireland sector.

She claimed she had persuaded MAFF to widen the criteria for accepting bids to allow as many to be as successful as possible.

“Taken together with the first Outgoers scheme, the actual number of sow places reflected in successful bids from applicants here is circa 33,000,” she said.

“This is a very creditable result.”

The outgoers scheme helps the industry reduce its capacity and become more competitive.

The second part of the restructuring scheme is the ongoers phase, which help farmers invest in their businesses to become more efficient. It is open until 3 August.

I am exhorting all those staying in pig production to consider taking advantage of Ongoers to allow them some help with restructuring.

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