Farmers are set to receive an advance of their Single Farm Payment (SFP) next week worth €500 million. The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney confirmed this in recent days in response to a parliamentary question from Deputy Willie Penrose. The Minister also confirmed that, as in previous years, the balancing payment will commence on 1 December. Minister Coveney said the timing of the Single Farm Payment is of critical importance to farmers and the wider rural economy, given that it represents in excess of €1.2 billion of the €1.6 billion that is paid out annually in direct aid. He added the SFP forms a significant part of the annual income of farmers in Ireland; in many cases it is used to subsidise the running costs of the farming enterprise and is, therefore, greater than the net farm income in those cases. He commented: “I am particularly conscious of the need to improve the cash flow on these farms. In the case of the Single Farm Payment , I can confirm that advance payments valued at over €500 million will commence on 16 October. My Department will make every effort to maximise the number of applicants cleared for payment on that date and will continue regular payment runs for cases as they are fully processed for payment thereafter.”