The national element of the EU aid package must benefit all livestock sectors in Northern Ireland.
This was the claim made by the Ulster Farmers’ Union as they urged agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen to ensure all Northern Irish livestock sectors were supported through funding from the EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid scheme.
Speaking after a meeting with DAERA officials, UFU president Barclay Bell said it was important the estimated £4.5 million of funding was used ‘strategically’ and to ‘maximum benefit’ for farmers and the industry as a whole.
- UFU president Barclay Bell
“We outlined a wide and varied range of options but our members believe the focus should be on supporting animal health measures across all livestock sectors. We are looking at the bigger picture and believe the aid package should be implemented to provide genuine, lasting benefits to the industry.
“Animal health is a significant and often costly problem on farms, and while the funds are very limited, this is an opportunity to help farmers tackle some of the issues,” said Mr Bell.
While there was the option for national governments to top-up the aid package from the EU, Mr Bell said the Union had already been told that this was unlikely to happen.
“Ideally, the EU money would be match funded and we have raised this previously in the meetings with both the Minister and her officials. However, we are realistic about the current economic climate and the financial pressures at Stormont.
“Our main focus is to maximise Northern Ireland’s share of the UK national envelope. This is critical if we are to have a well-funded scheme that can deliver a lasting legacy for farmers.”
Mr Bell also encouraged dairy farmers to consider the voluntary milk reduction scheme if it suited their business.