Future supports vital to survival of farm businesses - McAleer
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer MLA has welcomed confirmation that DAERA will begin to issue the full Single Farm Payments from 16th October but has highlighted concerns for future farm support.
The party’s agriculture spokesperson said:
"The Single Farm Payment is essential for the survival of many farm businesses.
“During evidence sessions on the Agriculture Bill we heard from experts at Queen’s University that without the direct payment at least 30% of farms would go out of business.
"Whilst it is welcome that the £293 million allocation has been retained, there is concern for future years as to whether the British government will honour this allocation post Brexit.
"The 4.3% increase, brought about by an £8million differential between the value of direct payments made to farmers and the £293 million ring fenced budget, has also come as great news to many farmers.
“While I welcome this, it is important to highlight that the Ministers decision to halt the transition towards an equal rate per unit for all farmers at year five of the seven year transition period, has deprived farmers with entitlements below the regional average of up to a 14% increase in their entitlement value this year and next year.
“This will have a particularly detrimental impact on sheep and beef farmers in the severely disadvantaged areas who have been labouring for years with entitlement values well below the regional average and who had been progressing for the last five years towards equality with other farmers. The axing of the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payment has compounded their difficulties.
“So while the 4.3% is welcome, for many hill farmers the loss of the ANC payment and the ending of transition towards an equal/flat rate will have profound implications for their businesses and livelihoods."