LMC instrumental in securing Covid-19 support package for the red meat sector
Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC) chief executive, Ian Stevenson, has welcomed the level of Covid-19 support announced by Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA for the beef and sheep sectors earlier this week.
Stevenson has also confirmed the critical role his organisation played in providing Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) officials with important information, which was used to formulate the two-phase support package for beef that is to be made available over the coming weeks.
Courtesy of background media briefings given by DAERA representatives earlier this week, reference was made to the detailed analysis received from the Andersons Centre, regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Northern Ireland’s red meat sector. Stevenson commented: “The Andersons’ work was commissioned by LMC with the support of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association and the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
“Covid-19 has created unprecedented circumstances for everyone and the red meat supply chains to their immense credit have kept functioning throughout.”
“It is very reassuring to know that the conclusions reached by the Andersons’ team were fully taken on board by DAERA.”
He continued: “LMC welcomes this very positive development to provide Covid-19 financial support for beef producers who slaughtered animals during the reference period from mid-February to the end of June 2020 and for sheep producers who slaughtered animals during the reference period from 29 March to 25 April 2020.
“We would like to commend Minister Poots for his efforts to secure a support package from the NI Executive and for the direct engagement both he and his officials undertook with industry to gather insight on market impacts and to identify where the support should be targeted based on losses incurred by the market distortions caused by Covid-19.”
According to Stevenson, LMC worked closely with the red meat industry to help quantify the specific losses incurred as a direct consequence of Covid-19 and the evidence gathered was a key factor in securing the allocation of over £7.2m of financial support to beef and sheep farmers at this time.
He added: “Whilst we are starting to see the return of quick service restaurants and table serve meal offerings in restaurants, bars, hotels etc as they begin to re-open we are still a long way from return to pre-Covid-19 circumstances in foodservice and catering outlets which are crucial for carcase balance.
“Manufacturers across the world who use hides and skins are also facing much reduced demand for their products and these markets will take a long time to recover and therefore LMC welcomes Minister Poots’ decision to retain some further financial support funding should it be needed as the year progresses.”
The LMC chief executive went on to point out that Northern Ireland’s meat processing industry has made significant and ongoing investment in the protection of staff, suppliers and contractors from Covid-19 and these essential social distancing and safety measures are set to stay for the foreseeable future and have created new costs for supply chains.
He concluded: “Covid-19 has created unprecedented circumstances for everyone and the red meat supply chains to their immense credit have kept functioning throughout.
“This support will be welcome relief for beef and sheep farmers who came into 2020 off a very challenging year.”