Advance CAP payments to NI farmers increased to 70%

The rate of advance Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to Northern Irish farmers has been increased to 70% of the claim value.

The jump from 50% of the claim value was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) earlier today.

An application from the department to increase the rate of advance payments from October 16 has recently been approved by the European Commission.

The department decided to submit an application to the commission following heavy rainfall and subsequent flash flooding in August.

Advance payments will commence on Monday, October 16, to all eligible farm businesses in Northern Ireland which have fully-verified claims, DAERA confirmed.

Balance payments, or full payments for those not eligible for an advance payment, will commence from December 1, the department added.

The decision to increase the rate of advance payments to 70% was welcomed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU). It says this announcement will help with cash flow pressures caused by poor weather conditions.

This increase is something that the union has been pushing for in a difficult year for weather-related problems, UFU President Barclay Bell said.

The prolonged periods of heavy rain, which resulted in serious flooding in some areas, have presented a number of challenges.

“Cattle have been housed earlier than usual, silage hasn’t been cut, slurry can’t be spread and harvest has been delayed. This has put a severe cash flow strain on many farm businesses,” he said.

Advance payments in the Republic of Ireland

At the National Ploughing Championships in September, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed that 70% advance payments would be issued to farmers in the Republic of Ireland.

Similarly to Northern Ireland, these advance payments would begin to be issued from October 16, with balancing payments issuing from December 1.

Speaking during the three-day event, Minister Creed said: “I am very pleased that this allows us to make advance payments – at a rate of 70%, rather than the standard rate of 50% provided for under EU legislation – to those applicants whose applications are confirmed fully clear, with effect from October 16, with balancing payments being made with effect from December 1.”

There will also be an increase permitted to the advance payment for Pillar II Rural Development schemes, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine explained.

The rate is set to be increased up to a possible 85%, for those schemes where advance payments will be made before the end of the year, it added.

In 2016, applications were also granted in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to increase the rate of advance payments to 70%.