Beef and sheep hill farmers need financial support - McAleer
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said the DAERA Minister needs to do more to support beef and sheep hill farmers.
The chair of the Agriculture committee was responding to the announcement of the allocation of the £25 million financial assistance for farming for COVID-19 relief.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“From my reading of the statement it looks like good news for the dairy sector and beef finishers but bad news for beef and sheep producers, who are mostly hill farmers and appear to have been overlooked.
“The Minister states that his decision is based on evidence, however he seems to have taken no account of the closure of the marts during the month of April and the impact this had on primary producers who also had to contend with rising input costs, the impact of COVID, the loss of ANC support and a drying up of their cash flow forcing them to make farm to farm sales at poor prices.
“According to the DAERA, during April when the marts were shut, 21,691 cattle were traded between farms and Minister Poots knows from evidence provided to him that cattle value had plummeted by £240/head and sheep by £31/head.
“However, it looks as if no consideration has been given to these farmers, despite them being one of the few sectors whose income is so low that they could not benefit from other COVID support measures as the self-employed Income Support Scheme.
“This announcement is disappointing for beef and sheep hill farmers and I will be raising these issues with the Minister and pressing him strongly to support our beef and sheep primary producers, who are at the very beginning of the food supply chain and the backbone of the agri-food industry.”