DAERA Michelle McIlveen has announced that advance payments will be issued to 80% of eligible farm businesses.
Miss McIlveen confirmed that her Department remains on track to issue the advance payments from Monday 17 October until Friday 21 October.
She said: “I am pleased to announce this ambitious target for the delivery of advance payments to our farmers. We are breaking new ground as we are the first region of the United Kingdom to deliver advance payments.
“Growing our farming industry is a priority for me. However, I am aware of the challenges ahead and recognise the importance of scheme payments to farm incomes. That is why I am determined to make advance payments to 80% of eligible farmers with full payments being made to 95% of eligible applicants by the end of the year.”
The Minister also confirmed that the 2016 Young Farmers’ Payment will be paid at the rate of €60.53 per hectare up to a limit of 90 hectares per business. A scaleback of 0.40% will be applied to all Basic Payment Scheme entitlements in order to fund the Regional Reserve.
Commenting on the announcement UFU president, Barclay Bell, said; “Given the acute cash flow pressures the industry faces these payments will be anxiously awaited by farming families across Northern Ireland and this announcement from the minister is certainly encouraging news. Under current EU rules this advance is limited to 50 per cent of the direct payment but has been allowed to be increased in previous years to help offset severe cash flow difficulties - something which we have been pushing for and we are pleased that the European Commission has agreed to increase this level to 70 per cent this year. This announcement by the Minister also reflects the move there has been towards on-line applications and we would encourage farmers to do this where possible, since this announcement confirms that doing so creates the conditions for early payments,” said Mr Bell.