Changes to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements will come into force from the 2021 scheme year, Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots announced today.

The changes, which include scrapping Greening Payments, will simplify the application process for farmers and will be reflected in the Entitlements Register, which was published on January 31 this year.

Greening Payments scrapped

In a statement, Minister Poots assured farmers that removing Greening Payments will not affect the overall money they receive.

Although farmers will not receive a specific greening payment, the money paid out previously will be incorporated into BPS entitlements values and will be included in their main BPS payment.

Minister Poots said: “In September 2020, I announced my decision to permanently remove greening requirements for the 2021 scheme year after considering that they are not effective in delivering environmental benefits, coupled with the additional administrative burden they placed on farmers.

“These changes have now been made and the application process has been simplified.

The value of BPS entitlements will be increased by approximately 43.6% to ensure that overall payments to NI farmers remain the same.

“However, farmers will still have to meet the minimum standards on the environment, animal and plant health, and animal welfare. Rules on Environmentally Sensitive Permanent Grassland and land eligibility are being retained.”

Exchange rate

Minister Poots also announced that entitlement values will now be calculated in sterling: “With the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union last year, it no longer makes sense to calculate entitlement values in euros. Entitlement values on the register will now be displayed in pound sterling.”

While entitlements will now be calculated and displayed in sterling using the exchange rate of €1 = £0.89092, previous years’ entitlement values will continue to be displayed in euros.

Farmers are reminded that the online Entitlement Transfer Service will be opened from March 1 until May 4, 2021.