‘Resilience payment’ to be central to new NI farm support proposals

Civil servants in Northern Ireland have given the first official outline of how new farm support payments could look in the region post-2021.

Rosemary Agnew, director of the department’s Brexit Food and Farming Group, told the Stormont Agriculture Committee on Thursday (January 28) the main form of support would likely be a ‘Basic Income Support Payment’.

“[It will be] very, very similar, but a simplified version of what the Basic Payment Scheme is,” she said.

“And that would be a basic resilience payment. [The minister has also begun to outline his] thoughts around bringing forward a couple of support payments for suckler cows and breeding ewes and future agri-environment schemes.”

Agnew added that proposals would also include capital support, succession planning, knowledge and continuing professional development.

“We will over the course of the next number of months be bringing forward to the committee various proposals that we would like to go out to consultation with to seek further views on those,” she said.

“But all of this must be in a logical, transitioned way for farmers to be able to understand the changes that will be brought forward. So we are really just beginning to start the conversation around that.”

No further information was disclosed on how much the ‘Basic Income Support Payment’ could amount to, nor on how it would be allocated.

When he first took office a year ago, in January 2020, the minister suggested suckler support could be paid on a headage basis.

However, it’s likely this could be tied to data recording requirements similar to the ‘BEEP’ scheme (Beef Environmental Efficiency Programme) in the Republic of Ireland.

Agnew added that officials were “having conversations” with their counterparts in the rest of the UK and Republic of Ireland “so we don’t cause unintended consequences by bringing in very different schemes here”.

The proposals will be subject to public consultation before they are brought into effect. Previously, it had been promised the consultation would launch in “early in the new year”.