Farmers in Northern Ireland have been issued direct payments six weeks earlier than previous years.

Direct payments worth a combined £286.9 million have issued to 23,208 farmers (97% of eligible applicants) today (Thursday, September 1) in an effort to help with cash flow issues.

“The ongoing disruption to agricultural markets, in particular due to the situation in Ukraine, is having a huge impact on farm businesses in Northern Ireland,” said Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots.

“To help them with cash flow, annual payments have commenced six weeks earlier than previous years.

“I am pleased to confirm that £286.9million has issued to 23,208 farmers on 1 September. 

“This is only possible because we have left the European Union and can now make decisions to suit local needs,” he added.

The small number of remaining applications will continue to be verified by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), with payments being released daily from today onwards.

Payments will be the full payment due for 2022.  Payment letters will issue by post to all customers but can also be viewed online immediately via the DAERA Online Services.

Minister Poots also announced that there will be a one-off increase of 2.04% to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments, “to ensure that all funding ring-fenced for this purpose is used”.

This increase, which is less than the equivalent increase made in 2021, will equate to around approximately £250 extra for each farmer. Depending on the size of their claim, some farmers will receive more and some farmers will receive less.

Payments, totalling £208,355, to applicants of the pilot Protein Crops Scheme have also been issued today.