Northern Ireland farmers will be disappointed with the levels of Single Farm Payment that they will receive this year according to the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall said that under the CAP SFP scheme, the payment rate is currently based on the Euro/Sterling exchange rate in the European Central Bank on 30 September. “Unfortunately, since the 2013 rate was set at 0.83605 we have seen a constant slide of around 7% over the last 12 months to today’s exchange rate of 0.7773, which is just slightly lower than the 2012 rate of 0.79805 and is the lowest exchange rate for the past seven years.

“This year we will also have a further scaleback of around 2.5% on average, which is mainly due to CAP changes whereby both compulsory and voluntary modulation are no longer deducted from payments but a permanent reduction is applied to SFP entitlement values instead.

He also said that although this is more reflective of the position in 2012, the combination of these changes effectively results in an overall reduction of around 9.5% in comparison to last year. “We are also waiting clarification from the EU Commission later in the autumn on the application of its ‘financial discipline’ mechanism to ensure that the EU’s CAP budget remains within its ceiling with earlier indications pointing towards a further reduction of 1.3% on SFP payments above €2,000. All of these reductions will undoubtedly have a significant negative effect on farming businesses.

“Going forward, it is essential against this background that DARD ensures that as an absolute minimum they meet their SFP payment target commitment to pay 93% of applicants in December to help with cash flows especially considering that a number of sectors are experiencing seriously reduced or even non existent margins this year. We have and continue to urge the DARD Minister to do everything in her power to expedite these payments.
“On the positive side we have been extremely fortunate with the recent good weather conditions, which will hopefully lead to a shorter winter and reduced costs for farmers.”