Exchange rate remains favourable

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the exchange rate set for 2019, which will be used to convert CAP payments to sterling, remains favourable despite a slight drop.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson, said: “The exchange rate is something that is entirely out of farmers’ control. Despite the slight drop from last year’s figure, it will still provide a much needed cash boost for businesses. However, across the industry margins are tight and profitability continues to be an issue, particularly for our beef farmers. It has been a difficult year for farmers, with Brexit uncertainty, rising input costs, and market volatility all putting pressure on Northern Ireland’s family run farm businesses.”

The figure to convert euro payments from Brussels to sterling has been set at £0.89092 and is slightly down from 2018. CAP payments make up almost 80 per cent of total farm incomes, which were down 24 per cent overall in 2018 from the previous year.

While the 2019 exchange rate is still above pre-Brexit referendum levels in 2016 and 2015, which may help to cushion some businesses, the UFU says the industry is experiencing many challenges.

“DAERA has confirmed it will make 70 per cent advance payments in October. It’s important these direct payments are paid as quickly as possible as it has been a very difficult year for farm businesses across a number of sectors,” said the UFU president.