The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is indicating that the new suckler payment for Northern Ireland will be set between £140 and £160/cow.

This figure has been arrived at on the back of the suckler support scheme, recently proposed by agriculture minister Edwin Poots, having an annual budget of £40 million.

It is thought that a payment of this size would help stabilise suckler numbers across Northern Ireland.

Beef support measures

The UFU is also indicating that the proposed beef efficiency measures, also contained within the new farm support document, will be funded to the tune of £20 million per annum.

However, UFU sources are making it very clear that all of the new support schemes drawn up for Northern Ireland will be very much efficiency driven, with farmers having clear targets to meet in this regard.

In addition, the union has launched its proposals for a new agri environment scheme, called Farming with Nature.

The development of proposals for the scheme was driven by farmers' desire to do more environmental works on-farm, having huge gains for nature as well as their business.

Future suckler payment and agri support

These initiatives have been fed into the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), as that organisation works to bring forward plans for future agricultural support.

UFU president, Victor Chestnutt explained:

"After a mass amount of work being put into developing our ideas for a 'Farming with Nature' scheme which we believe could replace the Environmental Farming Scheme in the post-Brexit policy period, we're pleased to finally get it in the public domain.

“It was developed by our UFU environment committee with input from our policy committees and executive committee.

Throughout the process it remained obvious that our members, who are custodians of the countryside, wanted a scheme that would complement nature and food production, allowing both to coincide and thrive here in Northern Ireland.”

The union preisdent added that fFarmers have the ability to tackle a number of environmental challenges with the right support.

"Farming with Nature has been developed to deliver for both the farmer and the environment. It focuses on a results-based outcome approach, with options available for all sectors in every part of Northern Ireland.

“The scheme aims to deliver improvements on water quality, reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) and ammonia emissions, improve carbon sequestration and improve biodiversity."

According to Victor Chesnutt, the environment needs to become a profit centre for farms going forward.

“Farmers are working to meet the growing demand for food both at home and abroad whilst also protecting the environment and meeting the demands of climate change, nature and food production need to support each other," he said.

“Therefore, it's vital that our members are equipped with the right tools to become more efficient resulting in maximum returns and farmers must be involved in co-designing a future scheme to ensure it works for everyone."