The current market for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements in NI differs sharply with the trade in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

Reports indicate that entitlements are being sold for up to 2.5 times their value in ROI at present.

However, the trade in NI is much more subdued and most farmers with clean land are opting to lease entitlements for one year due to uncertainty around entitlement values going forward.

In 2024, entitlements are being cut by 9% to fund the new Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme and further deductions will occur in subsequent years to free up money for the upcoming Suckler Cow Scheme and Farming With Nature package.

Clean land

According to Omagh-based auctioneer Roy McCracken, buying entitlements for clean land in 2024 “seems like too much of a gamble” for many NI farmers.

One-year leasing is the more popular option and demand is strongest for higher-value entitlements, as these ultimately bring in a better payment.

The situation is different in ROI as there is more certainty in the market because farmers currently know the exact value their entitlements will yield up until the 2027 scheme year.

That said, some entitlements are still being sold in NI this year, although this is mainly for smaller areas of land.

“Higher-value entitlements are easier to sell and are trading at slightly above face value,” McCracken said.

The deadline for transferring entitlements through DAERA online services is 2 May 2024.

“For safe trading we would recommend that trading should be completed before the last week in April to allow agents time to complete paperwork before the deadline,” McCracken added.