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Over £18million claimed through Covid-19 support fund


Over 11,000 dairy, beef and sheep farm businesses have submitted applications to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Covid-19 Support Fund, resulting in total claims worth almost £18.2million, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced.


The financial support fund for dairy, beef and sheep sectors opened for applications on 7 September 2020 and 98.5% of the 11,350 eligible farmers submitted their applications by the closing date of 23 September 2020. Payments will issue from Monday 28 September.


Announcing the figures, Minister Poots said: “Earlier this year the Executive announced funding of £25million for a Covid-19 support package – the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for the agriculture and horticulture sectors during the Coronavirus emergency.


“£18.25million was allocated to dairy, beef and sheep farm businesses and I’m pleased to note that just over 98% have submitted claims for financial losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.


“My officials worked tirelessly, in partnership with industry and stakeholders, to get the scheme up and running and they will now demonstrate equal effort in processing these applications to ensure payments can begin to issue this incoming week.”


With just under one week to closing date for applications from potato businesses, Minister Poots has encouraged those eligible to submit applications as soon as possible.


He added: “Up to £1.6million is available to offset losses incurred by eligible farm businesses who specialise in supplying potatoes for processing to meet food service and hospitality industry needs. With the application window closing at midnight on 30 September I would again encourage those eligible to apply to do so as soon as possible.”


The scheme for eligible businesses in the commercial horticulture sector will be opening in October.


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.


The subsequent allocation of the COVID-19 Support Fund is as follows:


  • 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 are 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 £7million from the Support Fund.  All cattle slaughtered as TB reactors and ‘in contact’ animals are excluded from the scheme as will all cattle slaughtered and certified on APHIS as unfit for human consumption.


  • 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.


  • Milk producers will 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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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