Farm Minister confirms progress on 2007 LFA payments
Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has today confirmed that almost all of the 2007 LFA payments to farmers have been completed, ahead of target.
During a visit to Orchard House, the Minister announced the completion of 97% of 2007 Less Favoured Area (LFA) balance payments worth £10.3million, the remainder of payments will be issued in the next few weeks, once eligibility is established.
Speaking during her tour of Orchard House, where she met with DARD grants and subsidy staff, the Minister said:
"I wish to take this opportunity to commend all staff involved here at Orchard House for their tremendous efforts to issue these payments so promptly, given the tight time-scales involved in getting the legislation in place. This money will be much welcomed by farmers in the LFA, particularly in light of recent rises in the world wide price of grain."
Earlier in the day, Ms Gildernew visited Brian Begley's Aberdeen Angus beef farm in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, which supplies locally produced Aberdeen Angus beef to Tesco stores through the Foyle Food Group.
Speaking at the Begley farm, the Sinn Féin Minister said:
"The strengthening of beneficial links in the local supply-chain is always very welcome. Aberdeen Angus Quality Beef (AAQB) is an excellent example to any farmers who wish to increase their participation in the supply chain. The principles demonstrated by AAQB can be applied or easily adapted to suit a range of supply chains."
She also visited Foyle Meats in Lisahally and a Tesco store in Lisnagelvin. At the Tesco store the Minister commented: "I am very impressed by the quality and display of the locally produced Aberdeen Angus beef processed by Foyle Meats and available on the butchery counters at Tesco stores and I am pleased to learn that this high quality product will soon be available in the Tesco Finest range."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Michelle Gildernew visited: Brian Begley, Carrickmore, Co Tyrone; Foyle Meats, Lisahally; Tesco store - Lisnagelvin branch; and Grants and Subsidies Payments and Single Farm Payment Branches in Orchard House, Derry.
- The Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance (LFACA) compensates those farmers for lower returns from less productive land such as on hill farms, compared to that from lowland.
- The annual area based payment made is £40 for each hectare in areas considered severely disadvantaged; £20 per hectare in disadvantaged area and £20 per hectare of common land. The balances to be paid for 2007 are £17.20, £8.60 and £8.60 per hectare respectively.
- Eligible Suckler producers receive a cattle bonus of 25% of their area payment.
- The Department was unable to make full payment for 2007 in March as usual because the Rural Development Programme, of which the LFACA scheme is part, had not been approved by the European Commission.
- The Regulations enabling the balance payment and the cattle bonus were made on 22 August and following Assembly acceptance, came into operation on 12 September.