Extra £25 million funding for beef and dairy farmers a 'lifeline'

by Michael McHugh, PA

Extra funding for farm businesses struggling with the coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland is a "lifeline", minister Edwin Poots said.

The £25 million boost for the beef and dairy sectors is the most generous allocation made by any UK or EU administration for agriculture during the emergency, he added.

Mr Poots visited Hollowbridge Farm, near Hillsborough in Co Down, on Wednesday and said the official intervention reflected the deep and complex challenges the industry faced.

He said: "We know that with falling demand and prices for beef and dairy products, many farm businesses have been amongst the hardest hit, so the funding I have secured will certainly go some way towards helping the sectors.

"This will be a lifeline for many businesses and reflects the Executive's commitment to supporting the sectors."

The sector employs 100,000 people and has been badly affected by the shutdown of restaurants during the pandemic.

The minister previously warned that a 10% contraction in agriculture represented the loss of 10,000 jobs.

He said the red meat industry had been hit because closure of restaurants meant less demand for higher end cuts of meat.

The milk industry had also suffered because people were not drinking milky coffees in cafes.

On Wednesday, the minister added: "I have vowed to do all I can to support the agriculture industry during these very difficult times."

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