The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed NI Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill’s announcement in relation to young farmer support under the reformed CAP.

UFU President Ian Marshall said; “Young farmers are the lifeblood of this vital industry and ensuring they have suitable support under the new CAP is of paramount importance. The UFU has always been supportive of a Young Farmers’ Scheme under the new CAP and I welcome the Ministers’ announcement which offers more detail about the practicalities of this scheme. I am a pleased that the Minister decided to reduce the agriculture qualification from Level 3 to Level 2 as this will be much more accessible to many of our young farmers. Her announcement that courses and additional resources will be made available through CAFRE to accommodate those who might not already have a Level 2 qualification is also good news. These are all things the Union pushed for to ensure the new CAP is supportive of our young farmers and we look forward to further discussions about the scheme in the future.

“On the other hand, we are disappointed with the Minister’s decision to put a €150,000 cap on direct payments as, in principle, the Union does not agree with capping payments.

“Yesterday (15th May) was the closing date for 2015 Single Farm Payment applications and while it is positive that some decisions have been made in relation to the reformed CAP there are still big decisions to come. Farmers have had to work under a cloud of uncertainty the last few months and it has been incredibly difficult to plan for the future of a farm business in these circumstances. The Unions’ position on how the CAP should be implemented is no secret. We want to see all farmers treated fairly and for the decisions to be made with the best interests of the agriculture industry as a whole in mind.”