Only minor changes will apply to most farmers when a new area-based scheme is introduced in 2025, as part of a transition to a Farm Sustainability Payment (FSP), the Irish Farmers Journal understands.

The current plan within DAERA is that it will be 2026 before more substantive requirements are in place for claimants, as the FSP is rolled out in full.

The FSP is due to be the main replacement for the current Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), with DAERA proposing a number of new conditions for farmers to claim the payment.

This includes a minimum claim size of 5ha rather than 3ha, with eligibility also dependent on farming activity in 2020 and 2021. Both requirements are likely to apply in 2025.

There are around 1,400 farm businesses that had no livestock or growing crops in those historic years and will, therefore, be excluded from the FSP.

They will have little option, but to trade their entitlements. It is understood that DAERA is considering how it will cater for new entrants and any exceptional circumstances.

Other conditions

The full roll-out of the FSP is due to take place in 2026, when various other conditions will come into play, including changes to land eligibility rules. All land will be eligible to claim payments, outside of hard features, adding around 40,000ha, or 4%, to the eligible NI land area.

A new simplified system of Farm Sustainability Standards, replacing the current cross-compliance regime, is also set to be introduced in 2026, along with a progressive cap on area payments, starting at £60,000.

However, farmers should note that this cap is after money is removed to pay for new beef schemes. From 2024 onwards, 8.5% to 9% is coming off to pay for the new beef carbon reduction scheme, and from 2025 it is likely that up to 17% will be removed from all area-based payments when a new suckler cow scheme is introduced.

On enquiry, a DAERA spokesperson said the Department is finalising many of the details around the FSP, but “hopes to be in a position in February to provide a comprehensive outline of the new FSP and the transition from the BPS”.

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