Following the Ulster Farmers’ Union submission to the recent DAERA consultation on Basic Payment Scheme Entitlement Unit Values Post 2019, UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “We have considered the consultation in great detail within our committee structure.
“In the absence of a minister, DAERA does not have the legal authority to implement any change in the unit value of entitlements in the 2020 Scheme Year.
“We have concluded that now is not the appropriate time for this consultation or to submit a formal response.
“An array of issues at present means the agriculture industry is in a state of flux. Circumstances now may be very different by the time there is a minister in place.
“DAERA must revisit this issue when they are legally able to take a decision on entitlement value. To do otherwise, would be irresponsible.”
The UFU has highlighted to DAERA that members in the severely disadvantaged areas (SDA) will financially lose out while the entitlements are frozen in 2019.
“Almost 50 per cent of Northern Ireland’s suckler cows and 60 per cent of our ewe population reside on farms in SDA areas.
“This breeding population produces a significant quantity of livestock that are then used for further breeding or finishing on lowland farms.
“Production in hill areas is therefore of huge strategic importance in the context of supporting the red meat industry in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Ferguson.
The UFU continues to argue for the reinstatement of the Area of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme, worth £20 million to hill farming businesses and providing a vital support mechanism for SDA areas.
“A decision to reinstate the ANC scheme would make an invaluable contribution to Northern Ireland’s red meat industry, our economy, the environment and our rural communities,” said the UFU president.
The UFU will continue to engage with DAERA on the future of BPS entitlement value.