The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has confirmed its intention to issue advance payments for the Basic Payment Scheme and Greening Payment from October 16.
Advance payments will only be made on fully verified claims. European Regulations permit the department to make advance payments of up to 50% of the total individual value of the claim. The balance may be paid from 1 December 2017.
A DAERA spokesperson said: “The delivery of advance payments in 2017 is a direct consequence of the increase in the number of farmers submitting their Single Applications online. The department is committed to maximising the number of payments made to farmers in October and again in December.”
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has welcomed the announcement that where possible advance payments will be made from October 16 onwards – the first date possible under EU rules. The Union says this decision was expected as the number of farmers submitting their Single Application Form online increased so significantly, creating the conditions for early payments.
Commenting on this announcement, UFU president Barclay Bell said: “While commodity prices have improved from last year and exchange rates have improved farmers will certainly welcome the decision to pay up to half of their claim in October.” Under current EU rules this advance is limited to 50 per cent of the direct payment. It has been raised to 70 per cent in some years to help offset cash flow difficulties.
“This is something we will be pushing the European Commission for as cash flow is still an issue on many farms,” said Mr Bell.
He added that while the exchange rate to calculate the sterling value of payments will not be confirmed until the end of September the UFU is hopeful that the further strengthening of the Euro against Sterling, since last year, will provide a welcome boost as winter arrives and feed and other bills begin to rise.
Earlier this year DAERA announced that all applications for all future grant and support schemes must be submitted online. As a consequence, the 2017 SAF applications were be the first to be dealt with in this manner
“In 2016, 62 per cent of farmers submitted their single payment application online, which was a modest increase from 2015.