Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill has announced that DARD will make payments to 95% of eligible applicants to the Basic Payment Scheme in December.
On making the announcement, the minister said: “The vast majority of applicants which have been determined as eligible for Basic Payment will be paid next month. This payment will include the majority of cases which were selected for inspection, and this will include cases selected for inspection by remote sensing.
“This represents the highest number of inspections ever paid in December. Further I commit to paying all inspection cases by the end of March.”
Alongside the Basic Payment, farmers will also receive a Greening Payment and where a successful application for the Young Farmers’ Payment has been confirmed, this will also be paid.
The Minister went on to say: “I also want to take this opportunity to make it clear to all those applicants who we have advised they need to provide us with further information to progress assessment of their claim or who have yet to respond to requests for BACS banking details or to provide a response to the Associated Herds letter they received that until we hear from you, we cannot progress your claims.
“Until you provide the information requested we are not able to pay you and it is in your interests to send us the necessary information as early as practical.
“These aside, I commit to making payments to 95% of eligible applicants by the end of December.”
UFU president Ian Marshall welcomed the announcement. “This is something that the UFU have been seeking for some time,” he said.
“The commitment to paying all inspection cases by the end of March will be particularly welcomed considering the difficulties farmers are facing at present,” said Mr Marshall.
He added that the UFU has been working closely with the Minister and her officials since the application process closed in May to ensure this happened.
“Given that this is a new CAP system being implemented this year we feel DARD deserves credit for this.”
Meanwhile YFCU president Roberta Simmons has welcomed the confirmation by DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill that the Young Farmers’ Payment for 2015 has now been set at €81.28 per hectare.
“The payment provides an incentive to attract and keep young farmers in the sector,” she said.
“It will also help to finance an increase in the existing holdings through the turnover within the farm, helping to make the holding profitable thus promoting a generational turnover.
“This should assure the survival of the holdings and the industry in the long period.
“However, we still have minor concerns and in the coming weeks we plan to work closely with DARD should applicants be unsuccessful for the top-up.”
Simmons confirmed that the YFCU had worked closely with Department of Agriculture staff to ensure the development of young farmer support measures that meet the specific needs of farm businesses throughout Northern Ireland.
“A new era has dawned, not just here, but for agriculture as a whole throughout Europe,” she said
“Young farmers have been officially recognised within the new CAP arrangements as being a critical stakeholder group within agriculture, one which will play a key role in determining the future shape of the industry.
“YFCU is the voice of young farmers here in Northern Ireland and we are committed to ensuring that the views of members are taken on board by decision makers locally, nationally and in Brussels.”