The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has welcomed Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s announcement on several of the pressing practical points associated with Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) Reform implementation in Northern Ireland.

UFU president Harry Sinclair said: “The decisions taken by the minister to re-base entitlements in 2015 and also to not restrict them to the number of eligible hectares in 2013 provides more flexibility to farmers.  Equally, the use of the 2014 value of entitlements held rather than claimed will help farmers to secure their entire existing SFP given the fact that in most cases present eligible land areas will have reduced since 2005.

“These are issues which we had fully supported and these decisions will help to provide some clarity for farmers trying to plan their businesses under the reformed CAP. Also, the fact that progress is being made in relation to the finalised active farmer definition is positive, with the EU Commission adopting the CAP reform Delegated Acts earlier this week. I would encourage farmers and landowners to continue their conversations in relation to conacre and entitlement agreements in an effort to ensure the interests of both parties are looked after, and the clarity now available will be helpful in these discussions.”

The UFU said the announcement brings farmers a step closer to understanding what the final reformed CAP will look like for Northern Ireland.

“However, there are still a number of important decisions to be made. I would urge the minister to carefully consider all options and to ensure decisions are made based on what is in the best interest of the future of the industry as a whole,” Sinclair cautioned.