The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has provided clarification on how the department intends to take forward the transition of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements into the new Farm Sustainability Payment (FSP) entitlements.

The transition takes place ahead of the launch of the Farm Sustainability Transition Payment (FSTP) next year (2025).

It is currently planned that the current Basic Payment Scheme will be replaced by an FSTP in 2025, with the full FSP coming into operation in 2026.

Speaking about the transition, a spokesperson for DAERA said: “One of the eligibility requirements for FSTP in 2025 and FSP from 2026 onwards will be the need for eligible farm businesses to activate five entitlements on five hectares of eligible land.

“To allow businesses to plan effectively, it is important to provide details at this stage of how the department plans to take forward the process of moving from BPS entitlements to FSP entitlements.”

With the introduction of FSTP in 2025, BPS entitlements will expire and be replaced with FSP entitlements.

Those businesses that did not meet the farming activity requirements in the previously announced historic reference period of 2020 and/or 2021 will not be eligible for FSTP in 2025, and will not receive FSP entitlements.

These businesses will have until the closure of the entitlement trading window in May 2025 to sell their BPS entitlements, otherwise they will cease to have a value.

The spokesperson continued: “The changes outlined above reflect the policy decisions to date.

“However, before it will be possible to provide a definitive way forward the department is required to have underpinning legislation passed in the Assembly, which will be taken forward in the next number of months.”

The introduction of the Farm Sustainability Payment is in line with the decisions contained within the document entitled ‘Future Agricultural Policy Decisions for Northern Ireland’.