Farmers in NI are to receive their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money in full, from 1 September, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has confirmed.
The move is designed to help cash flow on farms, and follows on from an announcement in England that BPS will be issued in two equal instalments, the first being at the end of July, with the balance paid in December.
DAERA has been the only paying agency in Britain or Ireland to make full BPS payments from 16 October, and this payment date will be brought forward by 6 weeks this year as a one-off arrangement.
Announcing his plans at a DAERA breakfast event at last weeks’ Balmoral Show, Minister Poots also raised concerns about the unprecedented rise in input costs on farms. He said he has written to Defra Secretary George Eustice asking him to urgently consider a range of measures including financial assistance for farmers.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Minister Poots also indicated that he has not given up hope of a £70m support package being released to NI farmers. A bid was submitted to the Department of Finance in March after the UK government made £300m available to help deal with the cost of living crisis.
“It is over to the Finance Minister [Conor Murphy] to find a way to get that money out,” suggested Minister Poots.
However, the Department of Finance has insisted that the money cannot be released without the formation of an Executive at Stormont, something which the DUP continues to block until issues around the NI protocol are resolved.