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Poots announces 4.3% increase to BPS entitlements

AGRICULTURE Minister Edwin Poots has announced that a linear increase of 4.3 per cent will be applied to all Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements in 2020 scheme year.

The Minister said: “Over time, the difference between the value of direct payments made to farmers and the budget allocation has increased due to a number of issues such as not all BPS entitlements being activated for payment. Therefore I have decided to apply an increase of 4.3 per cent to the unit value of all BPS entitlements in 2020 scheme year.”

The Minister continued: “This increase will be worth approximately £8 million in total or £330 on average per farmer. It will ensure that our expenditure on direct payments will match our budget allocation of £293 million which under Treasury rules is ring fenced and can only be used for these payments.”

The Minister, pictured right, concluded: “I continue to be committed to supporting our agricultural sector as this increase to BPS entitlements demonstrates.

“I can confirm that the department remains on track to commence full payments to farmers for the 2020 scheme year from 16 October 2020, which has become possible as a result of EU exit.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the announcement.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “DAERA’s decision to increase all BPS entitlements for 2020 by 4.3 per cent is a benefit of devolution allowing a good initiative to be taken by our local Agriculture Minister to ensure that all of the available funding is utilised. The gap between the total of direct payments made to farmers and the budget allocation increased due to several issues influencing Minister Poots to deliver this rise.

“It is a permanent uplift to entitlements and not a one-off, therefore it will apply in 2021 and beyond until the system changes. By appropriately allocating this additional and otherwise unspent funding via BPS entitlements, it should help justify the continuation of this financial distribution to the UK Treasury going forward.

“Our ability to get the payments out at the earliest opportunity in what has obviously been a challenging year supports the decision taken earlier in the year to maintain the original 15 May application deadline despite Covid-19 restrictions at that time.”

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