The vast majority of farmers in Northern Ireland will be paid the value of their full Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claim on Monday (18 October), with £209,000 worth of protein payments also due to hit bank accounts.
Farm minister Edwin Poots has said that more than £301m in direct payments will be issued to 23,393 farmers – 98% of eligible applicants.
This is the largest amount ever paid out to farmers on day one of the payment window and includes 91% of farm businesses selected for inspection in 2021.
Historically, the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) was limited to paying a 70% advance payment in October, but since Brexit has been able to switch to making full payments instead.
Payments in Northern Ireland have also increased by 6.3% this year to make sure that all the cash ring-fenced for the scheme is used.
The increase, which applies only to 2021 payments, equates to an average increase of about £800 per farming business.
Mr Poots said he was pleased to be able to make the payments as they represented the bulk of farm businesses’ annual income.
“Maximising payments issued on day one improves the financial viability of these businesses and the wider rural economy,” he said.
Any outstanding claims will continue to be verified by Daera, with payments being released daily from 18 October onwards.
Payment letters will be sent by post to all customers, but can also be viewed online through Daera Online Services.
Victor Chestnutt, president of the Ulster Farmers Union, said: “The payments are crucial in helping to sustain family farming businesses across NI.
“This year’s increase will help alleviate financial pressures due to rising input costs, ensuring farmers can continue to produce the high-quality, environmentally friendly food we all expect.”
Farmers who entered the Protein Crop Scheme will also receive their payments, worth £330/ha.
The pilot scheme will run for two years and aims to encourage the production of combinable beans, peas and sweet lupins.
The government is keen to increase protein crop production so Northern Ireland is less dependent on imported animal feed and because it will provide agronomic benefits within arable rotations.