Review of UK convergence funding must recognise regions

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says the independent panel tasked with reviewing the allocation of the remainder of the UK’s extra convergence funding must recognise the different needs of each region.

UFU president, Ivor Ferguson (pictured) said: “Northern Ireland’s farming industry is largely based around small, family-run, farm businesses and we also have more intensive livestock production systems. Both of these are reflected in the historic allocation based on the productivity of the UK regions.”

The funding was provided to the UK by the EU in 2013 because our average single farm payment per hectare was below that of the EU average. The push for a review has come from Scottish farmers because the convergence funding allocation was largely as a result of Scotland’s lower payment rate per hectare.

“Scotland’s average payment per hectare is lower than the other regions in the UK and while it may look like farmers in Scotland are being treated unfairly, it is important to remember that the land and farm type is very different. Farm businesses in Northern Ireland, on average receive much less support per business than our counterparts in Scotland. We are also more dependent on support due to the small size of farm businesses in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Ferguson.

The UFU says the panel must consider all factors, especially overall budget of each region and payment per business.

The funding will be worth just over £5 million per year to Northern Ireland between 2020 and 2022.