Poots eyes further support for struggling NI livestock farmers

Daera minister Edwin Poots has hinted at further support for Northern Ireland’s livestock farmers, who face a perfect storm of trade disruption and input price hikes.

The suggestion of support for the beef, sheep and pig sectors came after Mr Poots held crisis talks with food industry leaders last week.

The minister met agri-food firms to highlight the devastating impact on livestock businesses of rising feed, fertiliser and energy costs, labour issues and supply chain disruption. Mr Poots said the combination of issues was like a “perfect storm” for livestock farmers.

See also: Holyrood ministers warn NZ deal will damage Scottish farmers

And he warned that the high prices were likely to continue because of the war between Russia and Ukraine – both key suppliers of food, fuel and labour.

Speaking after the food sector meetings, Mr Poots said primary producers were facing unprecedented cost increases which simply could not continue to be absorbed by farm businesses

“We need to find options to help the livestock sectors across the UK and be ready to act if the position does not improve in the coming months,” he said.

“I have instructed officials to draw up contingency options for assistance to the beef, sheep and pig sectors.”

Of the three sectors, the minister suggested the impact on the pig industry had been greatest, making it the highest priority for support. 

Previous support

NI pig producers have already been handed £2m of support in a previous aid package to help offset the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other sectors including dairy, beef, sheep, potatoes and ornamental plants were also given support in the early months of the pandemic. 

A total package worth £21.4m was offered to these producers in July 2020.