Struggling pig farmers in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from a new £2m government support package.
The scheme is targeted at pig farmers who have been financially impacted by the effects of weakening markets, increased feed costs and getting pigs moved off the farm for slaughter.
Announcing the scheme, NI agriculture minister Edwin Poots said: “I am very aware of the challenges pig producers have faced in recent months and I am convinced that the sector needs emergency financial support at this time.
“I therefore intend to direct my permanent secretary to deliver a support scheme that will target those farmers who have been impacted most.”
The scheme will make payments to pig producers who incurred price penalties on pigs that were outside contract specifications from September 2021 to February 2022.
News of the funding comes as the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said the NI pig sector was “facing a crisis like never before”.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “Our pig producers are on their knees. They’ve never experienced such financial difficulty as they are right now – it’s gut wrenching.
“They’ve been enduring serious losses for months due to market volatility and increasing production costs, struggling to keep their head above water, and now Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine has resulted in the price of raw materials going through the roof.
“Unless the price of pigmeat increases, the demise of the pig sector is inevitable. Pig producers across the country will be put out of business. They simply cannot keep up with the eyewatering price increases any longer.”
Eligible pig producers will be invited to apply through the NI Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (Daera) online services when the scheme opens in April.
Further information and details will be published on the Daera website at that time.
The Irish government announced a €7m (£5.85m) support package for its pig industry last month. But Defra has so far resisted calls from the National Pig Association and others to provide emergency funding for crisis-hit pig farmers in England.