UFU continues to push for beef and sheep support

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it has been labouring intensively to secure support for the beef and sheep meat sectors.
Sam ChesneySam Chesney
Sam Chesney

Discussions with stakeholders and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) have taken place daily to ensure that beef and sheep support remains at the top of DAERA’s agenda.

Last week Minister Edwin Poots stated that DAERA was lobbing at regional and national level to try and get the best support and protection from the COVID-19 crisis for these sectors.

UFU beef and lamb chairman Sam Chesney said: “The UFU would like to thank Minister Poots for his efforts, working on behalf of our beef and sheep producers to gain financial aid for these sectors and we want our Northern Ireland Executive to fully 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.”

The Private Storage Aid (PSA) announced by the European Commission as part of their support package for the agriculture industry, will not provide meaningful support to beef and sheep farmers. It will fund processors allowing them to store products to encourage market stabilisation, however it is a starting point for agriculture support.

“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,” said Mr Chesney.

“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. The beef and sheep sectors are major contributors to the wider Northern Ireland economy as well as locally, and it is in the interest of Government to provide funding to help sustain these crucial agri sectors. 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,” said Mr Chesney.