Northern Ireland tops UK’s Basic Payments league

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill convened a further meeting of dairy stakeholder senior representatives at Stormont to discuss challenges facing the industry. Minister O'Neill said consensus across the dairy industry is vital if there is to be a solution to the current crisis facing farmers. The Minister also said she is pressing for a meeting with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to press him on intervention volumes. Those attending the meeting included the UFU, NIGTA, banks, dairy processors and other key industry representatives.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill convened a further meeting of dairy stakeholder senior representatives at Stormont to discuss challenges facing the industry. Minister O'Neill said consensus across the dairy industry is vital if there is to be a solution to the current crisis facing farmers. The Minister also said she is pressing for a meeting with EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to press him on intervention volumes. Those attending the meeting included the UFU, NIGTA, banks, dairy processors and other key industry representatives.

Figures released by the various regional authorities throughout the UK confirm that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) holds the number one spot when it comes to Basic Payment Scheme confirmations for 2015/16.

As of the first week of March 97% of producers in Northern Ireland had received their monies. The equivalent figures for England, Scotland and Wales are: 81%, 43% and 86%. The Scottish figure rises to 80% if part payments are included.

Commenting on these trends, Northern Ireland’s farm minister Michelle O’Neill said: “To date my department has issued 22,837 payments to 97% of eligible farm businesses, totalling £222m. By December 2015 we had paid 96% of eligible farm businesses, including more than 1,700 cases which had been subject to inspection, the largest number ever processed in the month of December. I am delighted with the performance of my staff in reaching these targets during a period of great transition and despite the challenges which CAP reform has presented for farmers.

“This performance reflects how I and my department view the importance of these payments to farmers. My staff remain focused on clearing the remaining claims as quickly as possible.

“We will continue to strive to build even further on this success in 2016 and beyond. I would like to be in a position to make advance payments but this requires the help of the farming community. The number of applications being submitted online has been increasing steadily, with 46% applying online in 2015. However, in order to deliver this, I need at least 70% of farmers to use the online service. It is in the farming community’s interests to ‘help us to help you’. With DARD’s online application now open I would encourage more farmers to avail of the online system rather than paper format when completing their single application this year.”

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, also congratulated DARD staff for their achievement in getting so many Basic Payments processed in such a short period of time, during his recent visit to Northern Ireland.