The View from Northern Ireland: The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) allocations for Northern Ireland (NI) will remain the same for the next funding period, according to an announcement made by the UK Government today.

Northern Ireland will receive a pillar 1 (direct payment) allocation of around €2,299m and a pillar 2 allocation around of €227m. Farmers in England, NI, Wales and Scotland will receive the same proportion of the €27.6bn CAP  budget over the next seven years as they currently receive.

Commenting on the announcement, NI Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I am extremely pleased to announce that as a result of our strong arguments in defence of our allocation of the CAP budget for Pillar I and Pillar II, we have succeeded in retaining our historic budget share.

She noted: “The negotiations were difficult and protracted as Scotland was pushing hard for an increased share. When I met with my ministerial colleagues from Britain at the start of this week, I made it very clear that we needed to bring this matter to a rapid conclusion.

“The decision has now been made and I have secured the outcome I was looking to achieve, which will deliver an additional €20m in support to the local industry between now and 2019. I believe that this represents the fairest possible outcome as the existing budget distribution reflects the nature and agricultural production characteristics across all of the regions.”

On the broader EU budget deal she said: “I have already voiced my disappointment that the EU Budget deal will leave us with reduced budgets, but as a result of today’s decision, the risk of any further reduction has been avoided. This provides welcome clarity on the CAP monies available in the north and now allows us to move on to decide how these should be best used for the long term benefit of the rural economy and environment.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has also welcomed confirmation on the allocation. In a statement, UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “The announcement today from the UK Agriculture Minister is good news for farmers here in Northern Ireland. The UFU has always argued and had recently written to the minister, that the UK’s direct support payment distribution envelopes should remain as they are since they are broadly reflective of the agricultural capacity of the area to which it is allocated.

“For Northern Ireland, we can’t underestimate the importance of the CAP. It plays a vital role in agriculture industry enabling farmers to produce affordable food, create jobs, look after the countryside and maintain rural communities,” he added.

Commenting on the negotiations he said: “There had been some uncertainty as to how the reduction would be spread across the UK. However, this was largely buoyed by the Scottish Government, which was pushing hard for a redistribution of the CAP budget, arguing that Scotland should be receiving a larger proportion. I believe that Minister Owen Patterson has come to a fair decision in terms of allocating the CAP budget and it allows us here in Northern Ireland to proceed with the implementation process having a clear idea of the resources available.”

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