Farmland in County Down, Northern Ireland© imageBROKER/Rex Shutterstock

Advance BPS payments will be on their way to Northern Irish farmers next week, with more than 19,000 businesses set to receive their cash by Thursday (20 October).

The advances amount to 70% of the BPS payment and are being sent out as early as possible in recognition of the “significant challenges” many farmers have faced this year, according to agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen.

“These advance payments should help ease some of the immediate pressures on farmers,” she said.

See also: FW launches initiative to ensure BPS targets are met

The aim is to issue advance payments to 80% of eligible farm business, with full payments being made to 95% of farmers by end of December 2016.

BPS_Watch_logo_finalBPS Watch from Farmers Weekly is intended to keep an eye on all the BPS payment bodies to ensure farmers get their support payments in a timely and accurate fashion.

Ms McIlveen said the increase in the number of farmers who submitted their applications online in 2016 (62%) had helped make advance payments possible.

“This allows my officials to spend less time checking and devote more resources to ensuring that more farmers receive full payment earlier.”

Farmers in Scotland, meanwhile, will benefit from a loan payment, worth 80% of the BPS value, in November.

BPS payments in England and Wales will not start to be made until December. The Rural Payments Agency aims to have 90% of payments delivered by the end of the year.

Autumn meetings

Northern Irish farmers are being invited to attend a series of information evenings to help them plan their winter management following the very wet summer. 

The department of agriculture (Daera), in conjunction with the Ulster Farmers Union and the banks, will use the meetings to address the issues of animal health, feed management and efficiency and business management.

“The result of the wet weather was that although grass growth was good, grass use was very difficult,” said farm minister Michelle McIlveen. “While the majority of farms will have a sufficient quantity of silage, the quality is poor.

“The wet conditions will also have increased the risk of a number of animal health issues, including liver fluke, clostridial disease, pneumonia, lameness and general ill-thrift.”

The meetings will be held on 27 October at the Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh, 1 November at Roe Valley Country Park Hotel, Limavady, and 2 November at Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen.