Exchange rate boosts north’s farm payments by £39m

A weaker Sterling has boosted the amount of money farmers in Northern Ireland will receive under direct payments this year.

The North’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIlveen, has announced that under an exchange rate of €1 = £0.85228p, 2016 Direct Payments to northern farmers will be boosted by £39m.

“This exchange rate is an increase on last year’s rate and will be welcome news for local farm businesses as it will boost the amount of Direct Payment received in what has been a difficult year for our farmers.

The Direct Payment remains an important element of farm incomes and I have committed to delivering advance payments in mid-October. My Department remains on track to achieve this.

Direct Payments in Northern Ireland

Back in July, the North’s Minister for Agriculture announced that Northern Irish farmers are to receive advanced CAP payments from October 16 of this this year.

The Minster also committed to pay at least 95% of eligible Basic Payment Scheme applicants in December.

At the time, McIlveen said she was aware of the pressures felt by some farmers and the importance of scheme payments to farm incomes.

The Minister added that making advance payments is a new initiative which will be carried out more efficiently if more farmers apply online.

In a further boost for agriculture, McIlveen said that subject to final approval, the Capital Scheme, which is part of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, will be open for applications in October.

The Minister also said that she wants to ensure that the north invests in the next generation of farms.

“Therefore, in order to encourage generational renewal, to recognise educational achievement and to maximise the benefits of long term investment, the new Capital Scheme will favour both young farmers and educated farmers at the selection stage,” she said.