The annual budget of £2.4bn to cover direct payments to UK farm businesses is “under threat”, Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) President David Brown told MLAs at Stormont on Monday.

Speaking at a UFU lunchtime event, Brown highlighted how the two main UK political parties had avoided making commitments on future funding at the National Farmers’ Union conference held earlier this month.


The need to secure funding for farmers from the British Treasury is an issue on which local politicians can collectively agree.

Explaining the latest situation at last Thursday’s meeting of the Stormont Agriculture committee, DAERA finance director Roger Downey said funding of £329.4m has been confirmed for the new financial year (2024/2025). As well as direct payments to farmers, this money covers what was previously paid out under the EU Rural Development Programme.

But beyond the next financial year, there is “no clarity” on what money might be available.

“We’ll be engaging with Treasury and with the other devolved administrations, and making a case for an uplift for future years but that’s all in the mix with everything else at the UK level,” said Downey.


During his presentation, Downey also highlighted wider pressures on DAERA budgets, driven in part by increased rates of bovine TB and the higher commercial value of TB reactor cattle.

Having started the current financial year with a baseline figure of £28m to cover TB reactor compensation, the latest estimate is that it will end up costing the Department £36.9m.

“We have had to scale back our running costs and we’re not replacing all the staff that have left for one reason or another, so we could we could reallocate money to cover this,” said Downey.

There is also £11.8m to go to private vets for TB testing and also internal costs within DAERA.

The “salvage income” to DAERA for TB reactors that go to slaughter is estimated at £12.2m.