More than 19,000 farm businesses right across Northern Ireland will receive advance CAP payments from Monday, Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen has confirmed.
She said: “This is very good news for our farmers. Northern Ireland is the first part of the United Kingdom to introduce advance payments and we have done so because we understand their value to our farming community. I have long been aware that many farmers are facing significant challenges and, from the moment I was appointed, I was determined to introduce advance payments to help.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that, from Monday, more than 19,000 farm businesses in all parts of Northern Ireland will receive 70% of their 2016 Basic Payment allocation. Funds will arrive in bank accounts by Thursday (20 October). These advance payments should help ease some of the immediate pressures on farmers.”
The Minister said that her Department will aim to issue advance payments to 80% of eligible farm business with full payments being made to 95% of farmers by the end of December 2016.
Miss McIlveen added: “Farmers who receive 70% of their Basic Payment this month will receive the remainder of their allocation in December 2016. My Department is committed to making 95% complete payments by the end of December 2016.”
Miss McIlveen said the increase in the number of farmers who submitted their Single Application online in 2016 had help make advance payments possible
She further explained: “It is clear for all to see the advantages of submitting Single Applications online, with my decision to introduce advance payments. This year 62% of farm businesses submitted their Single Application via the online system, an increase of 16% on 2015. Submitting applications online allow my officials to spend less time checking and devote more resources into ensuring that more farmers receive full payment earlier.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the announcement by Michelle McIlveen. The organisation’s president, Barclay Bell, said: “Given the acute cash flow pressures the industry faces these payments will be anxiously awaited by farming families across Northern Ireland and this announcement from the minister is certainly encouraging news.
“Under current EU rules this advance is limited to 50 per cent of the direct payment but has been allowed to be increased in previous years to help offset severe cash flow difficulties. This is something that we have been pushing for and we are pleased that the European Commission has agreed to increase this level to 70 per cent this year.
“This announcement by the Minister also reflects the move there has been towards on-line applications and we would encourage farmers to do this where possible, since this announcement confirms that doing so creates the conditions for early payments.”