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Minister encourages eligible farm businesses to apply for Covid-19 support fund


Minister Edwin Poots MLA pictured at the Mallusk DAERA Direct Office where he issued a reminder to all those eligible farm businesses to apply for the Covid-19 Support Fund. Also pictured in DAERA Direct Office staff member Ben Hope

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has urged all eligible farm businesses to apply to DAERA's £21.4 million Covid-19 Support Fund, and to do so as soon as possible.


Applications from the dairy, beef and sheep sectors opened on 7 September and will close on 23 September 2020. Applications from the potato sector opened on 9 September and will end on 30 September 2020.


The ornamental horticultural sector will see their application process open later in September.


Making the call for further applications whilst at his Department’s DAERA Direct Office at Mallusk, Minister Poots said:


“This significant amount of financial support is to help those in the dairy, beef, sheep, potato and ornamental horticulture sectors deal with the worst impacts of Covid-19 and help these sectors to stabilise and remain sustainable in the longer term. Given the scale and reach of the schemes, I am really pleased to visit the DAERA Direct Office in Mallusk and meet with staff who are here to help people through the application process if needed. I want to thank them for their diligence and commitment in assisting us to roll out such sizeable schemes. With such a tight deadline, it’s important that people are able to get their online form submitted as quickly and easily as possible.


"So far, over 7,500 applications have been received which is very encouraging but of course with 11,300 farm businesses eligible, that means there are still thousands of businesses yet to apply. I am calling on anyone who has been contacted by my Department already to say they are eligible, to get their applications in as soon as they can. There is only a week left to apply for the dairy, beef and sheep element of the scheme.”


The criteria for eligibility and explanatory information is available at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-schemes-agriculture-and-horticulture-sectors and farm businesses considered eligible to apply will by now have received a letter from the Department which contains instructions on how to access their application form and receive help to complete it.



Minister Edwin Poots MLA pictured at the Mallusk DAERA Direct Office where he issued a reminder to all those eligible farm businesses to apply for the Covid-19 Support Fund. Also pictured in DAERA Direct Office staff member Ben Hope


Minister Poots concluded: "Through this financial package, eligible farm business will recover some of the losses incurred as a result of the impact on trading caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.


“This funding package was the only one of its kind made available by any of the UK administrations in the midst of this crisis when it was announced in May and the most comprehensive financial aid scheme launched anywhere in the EU for agricultural and horticultural businesses.”


Notes


1. Eligible dairy, beef and sheep farm businesses have been able to access their application form since 9am on Monday 7 September, 2020 through DAERA Online Services at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/services/daera-online-services. This application process will close on Wednesday 23 September.


2. Applications for support to potato businesses opened on Wednesday 9 September, 2020 and will close on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. These businesses have been contacted and provided with guidance on how to submit their application form. The potato application form can be found at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-schemes-agriculture-and-horticulture-sectors


3. The Ornamental Horticulture Industry (Coronavirus, Financial Assistance) Scheme (Northern Ireland) 2020 will open later in September and these businesses will also be provided with guidance on how to make their application and the evidence they are required to submit.


4. A letter has been issued to every eligible farm business in the dairy, beef and sheep sectors. Businesses did not need to wait for their letter before accessing DAERA Online Services to submit their application. Only businesses which are considered eligible will have the option to complete this application when they log-on.


5. The Covid-19 Support Scheme is a contribution towards the losses incurred by businesses as a result of short term market disturbance. Since other HMG support measures are available to agricultural and horticultural businesses, rates of compensation for losses incurred have been set at 100% or 80%. The 80% rate is compatible with that set for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme and the amount of wages paid to furloughed workers through the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme.


6. The subsequent allocation of the Covid-19 Support Fund is as follows:


7. Beef producers will receive support for 100% of losses incurred in the period from mid-February – June. Farm businesses who presented beef cattle, cull cows or bulls and veal calves (from aged 8 months old and over), for slaughter between 16 February and 30 June will be eligible for a payment of £33 per head. A second payment of £40 per head will be made if beef cattle, cull cows or bulls (aged 12 months old and over), were presented for slaughter between 29 March and 16 May 2020. A payment of £13.50 per head will be made if veal calves (from aged 8 months to less than 12 months) were presented for slaughter between 29 March and 16 May 2020. Payments will be made to the farm business that had the eligible cattle registered in their herd (on APHIS) on the dates that meet the qualifying criteria. These payments equate to £7 million from the Support Fund.  All cattle slaughtered as TB reactors and ‘in contact’ animals will be excluded from the scheme as will all cattle slaughtered and certified on APHIS as unfit for human consumption.

8. Sheep producers will also receive 100% of losses incurred by receiving a flat rate payment of £6.88 per head based on the number of eligible sheep presented by a farm business for direct slaughter in NI, GB or in RoI between 22 March and 18 April 2020 inclusive. Payments will be made to the farm business that had eligible sheep registered in their flock (on APHIS) on the dates that meet the qualifying criteria.  These payments equate to £232k from the Support Fund.


9. Milk producers are to receive support for 80% of losses incurred in the months March, April, May and June with a flat rate payment of 1.28 p/l. This reflects an actual loss against a February reference price. These payments equate to £11m from the Support Fund.


10. Potato producers will also receive support for 80% of losses incurred in the period March 17 to July reflecting actual loss in sales or value of crop remaining in store against a March reference price. This equates to an allocation of up to up to £1.6m from the Support Fund. Support will be a payment per ton based (max of £136/t) on the loss in value of eligible potatoes during the period March 17 to July 31, 2020. 


11. Ornamental horticulture producers are to receive support for 80% of losses incurred in the period March 1 to June 30 reflecting actual loss in accrued sales of eligible plants compared to averaged sales in previous three years. This equates to an allocation of up to £1.6m from the Support Fund.

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