Northern Ireland livestock farmers to receive £4m aid package
The Agriculture Minister has pledged more than £4million to help support livestock farmers in Northern Ireland.
The financial support package - provided by the EU Exceptional Adjustment Aid - was announced by DUP Minister Michelle McIlveen.
The Assembly member said she was "acutely aware" of the extreme difficulties many livestock farmers have faced in the last two years.
The support package is designed to enable livestock farmers, including milk producers, to apply for assistance for the humane destruction of calves persistently infected with Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).
It also aims to help farmers improve pig meat quality, manage soils and nutrients more effectively and receive training in business planning and risk management.
The Minister said: "I am encouraged that dairy farmers have already had the opportunity to bid for EU aid to reduce their milk production, where that suited their particular business circumstances.
"Those farmers should receive a much-needed cash injection in the new year.
"However, I want to be able to do more for all livestock farmers affected by the recent market turbulence and to help build a stronger, more sustainable and competitive industry for the future."
The assistance to livestock farmers for the humane destruction of dairy and beef calves with BVD, will include a contribution towards the cost of replacing the animals and not simply the cost of removal to slaughter.
The funding will also support a programme to enhance the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland pig industry through training in parasite control and financial support for appropriate medication.
It will also see a free soil sampling and analysis service, plus information and advice on how to best use the results of analyses to support efficient farm nutrient management.
This is expected to promote sustainable production.
And there is also support for training in business planning and risk management through the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.
Ms McIlveen continued: "In considering the measures to be implemented, I wanted to maximise the impact of the available money and ensure that it makes a meaningful difference to our industry going forward.
"My officials and I have consulted a range of key stakeholders in the sector to seek views on where the support could best be targeted."