The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed confirmation from the agriculture minister, Michelle O’Neill, of the 2019 regional average entitlement for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
Including the greening payment, this has been set at €330.42 per hectare. The Young Farmers’ Payment for 2015 has also now been set at €81.28 per hectare.
Commenting on the announcement UFU president, Ian Marshall, said this is another step completed in the implementation process and both rates were in line with what the UFU had expected. “We wanted to see the BPS entitlement maximised and we can accept the scale backs of both 2 per cent for the Young Farmers’ scheme and 3.3 per cent for the regional reserve, given that under CAP rules some reduction could not be avoided,” he added.
The UFU says that with the entitlement values set the focus now must be to ensure that the maximum number of payments for this year are made during December.
“Individual payments will be down because of the weaker euro exchange rate and many farmers are also being hit hard by CAP payment regionalisation rule changes. The bottom line is that the entire industry cannot afford any delay in their direct payments this year,” said Mr Marshall.
He added that because of volatile prices many farmers are already being paid less than the cost of production at the most costly time of the year. “Cash flow is a huge issue across all enterprises. Farm businesses are relying on DARD delivering on its payment targets so that they can meet bills in December and January,” he warned.