The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) have reported that they are continuing to push for greater supports for the beef and sheep farmers of Northern Ireland.
The union have stated that the supports currently in place are insufficient and direct supports are needed to maintain farmers during these challenging times.
They have confirmed that in doing so, discussions have been held with meat industry stakeholders and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to ensure that beef and sheep supports remain at the top of their agenda.
In a recent statement, UFU beef and lamb chairman Sam Chesney commended the work of Minister Edwin Poots in trying to secure greater supports for the industry and have asked the Northern Ireland Executive to endorse this.
“Engagement on the matter has been positive to date, although our farmers must remain patient and they can rest assured that the union is doing all in its power to get support secured,” Chesney explained.
The UFU has stated that the Private Storage Aid (PSA) announced by the European Council as part of their support package will not provide sufficient support to beef or sheep farmers.
“Beef and sheep farmers continue to do their part during this COVID-19 outbreak, producing high-quality local products for consumers, adhering to some of the highest environmental and animal standards in the world. They deserve to receive a fair return for the work they’re doing.”
“The Government have revealed a number of support packages, but they will not be of much benefit to our beef and sheep farmers for various reasons. What our farmers need is a direct injection of financial aid to help prop up their farming businesses.”
Chesney stated that it is in the interest of the government to provide these supports because of the agricultural industries contribution to the wider Northern Ireland economy.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, sheep and beef producers were already struggling with falling farmgate prices and rising input costs. These sectors are already at breaking point due to the added pressures of this pandemic and now is the time for Government to step in.”
“Industry must continue to work together to get our farmers through this period of uncertainty and to make sure no one gets left behind. We need to come out the other side of this in a stable position so that we can move forward and develop Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry appropriately,” Chesney concluded.