UFU in push for Coupled Support

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has agreed to press for coupled payments for protein crops, with its Executive Committee rejecting suggestions of coupled support in other enterprises, including beef and sheep.

After considering the CAP coupled support options extensively within the UFU’s internal committee structure, UFU president Barclay Bell, pictured, stressed that there was a clear acceptance of the current difficulties being faced by virtually all sectors of the industry.

“Specific recognition that the suckler cow sector was particularly vulnerable as less support was available to it re-enforces the Union’s position back in 2013 when the reformed CAP was being implemented,” said Mr Bell.

“However, the general principle of reducing individual farm payments to provide any additional funding is not supported particularly under the present extremely difficult economic conditions which prevail within the industry generally.”

The Union however does now support the introduction of the option to provide a coupled payment for the small area of protein crops which is grown in Northern Ireland each year on the basis that it would help continue protein production locally. These are crops grown on arable farms that can be used in livestock feeds, and coupling under CAP rules would link payments to the area grown.

“This would help offset the advantage given to growers in the Republic of Ireland, where a coupled payment for protein crops was introduced a few years ago and would equate to an insignificant decrease in all existing SFP payments,” said Mr Bell.

He added that it is important we continue to monitor the situation within each sector as the phased transition of SFP support to a single regional model is progressed and act as necessary when the opportunities arise.