Farming News - NI farmers share over £300m in direct payments

NI farmers share over £300m in direct payments

19 Oct 2021
Frontdesk / Finance

Just over £300m have been paid out to farmers in Northern Ireland as the first of this year's direct payments hit applicants' bank accounts.

Direct payments are annual government subsidies paid to farmers to support the local agricultural industry and to help protect food supplies.

Payments rose by 6% this year, meaning farmers get, on average, an extra £800.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is good news that direct payments totalling £301,755,000, will be issued to Northern Ireland (NI) farmers on the first day of payments, 18 October. The announcement was made today by Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “It will be well received by our members that payments will be paid to 23,393 NI farmers next Monday. This equates to 98 percent of eligible applicants and includes 91 percent of farm businesses that were selected to undergo inspection.”

“The payments are crucial in helping to sustain family farming businesses across NI. This year’s increase will help alleviate financial pressures due to rising input costs ensuring farmers can continue to produce the high-quality, environmentally friendly food we all expect.”

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said it was the largest amount ever paid out on the first day of the payment window.

"I am delighted to confirm that 98% of local farmers will be issued a total of £301m in direct payments on 18 October," the minister said in a statement.

"As a result of exiting the EU, this is the second year the department has been able to issue payments in one go, which in turn has represented the largest amount ever issued by my department on the first day of payments."

UK farmers used to receive subsidies from the European Union via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), but that financial support was replaced by funding from Westminster after the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Mr Poots said the direct payments "represent the bulk of farm businesses' annual income".

"Maximising payments issued on day one improves the financial viability of these businesses and the wider rural economy," he added.