Northern Ireland’s processing potato growers are experiencing “tremendous” cash flow problems following the closure of schools and the hospitality sector caused by COVID-19.
That is according to Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), which has called for funding for the potato sector.
Northern Ireland’s processing potato growers
UFU deputy president William Irvine said, “We are aware of the continuous difficulties our potato growers have been experiencing due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the NI processing potato sector.”
“We are working hard lobbying the DAERA Minister and his officials to get much needed COVID-19 support for growers who have been seriously affected.”
“It is vital that funding is allocated to the processing potato sector as soon as possible to help sustain potato businesses across NI.”
“While it was positive to see schools reopening, many COVID-19 challenges remain with the ongoing closure of the hospitality sector. It is continuing to put the livelihoods of farming families under extreme pressure.”
Farmers urged to be mindful of bikes on roads
Meanwhile, the group is encouraging farmers to be mindful of cyclists and motorbike riders when using public roads.
The appeal comes as one of the busiest periods in the farming calendar, silage season, is just around the corner.
UFU rural affairs chair Jennifer Hawkes said, “With the weather improving and a longer stretch in the evenings, farmers are out and about busy with various seasonal jobs from lambing/calving to spreading slurry.”
“Silage will also be beginning very soon, adding to the volume of agricultural vehicles and machinery travelling on the road.”
She added that the public, particularly cyclists and motorbike riders, will also be taking advantage of the good weather and will be using public roads more frequently.
“Due to the vulnerability of cyclists and motorbike riders, we are encouraging our farmers to be extremely careful when driving on the roads in tractors and with large farming equipment. Farmers will be coming in and out of fields onto public roads very often.”