Land eligibility rules for area-based schemes will be unchanged from recent years for farmers in Northern Ireland in 2022.
That is according to Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Minister Edwin Poots, who confirmed that farmers can access a full guide to land eligibility for 2022 via DAERA’s website.
The schemes in question are:
- Young Farmers’ Payment (YFP);
- Basic Payment Scheme (BPS);
- Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS);
- Protein Crops Scheme (PCS).
Land eligibility rules
The minister urges all farmers to read the guide “carefully”. The DAERA may penalise them if they claim under any of the above land schemes that are not eligible.
According to the DAERA, eligible land must be:
- A field parcel which is at least 0.1ha in size with a physically recognisable boundary;
- Covered in eligible vegetation, be under your control and meet the conditions outlined in the Guide to Land Eligibility from January to December;
- Used for agricultural activity on a significant and consistent basis during the year;
- At your disposal on May 15th; and
- Maintained in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) with evidence of agricultural activity at inspection, e.g. flailing/burning etc.
Non ag use
The DAERA stressed that land not in agricultural use is not eligible.
The guide states that if agricultural and non-agricultural activities take place on the same land, the land will not be eligible if the intensity, nature, duration and timing of the non-agricultural activity “significantly” interfere with agricultural activity.
A spokesperson said:
“It is your responsibility to ensure that you only claim on eligible land and that you deduct all ineligible areas irrespective of what is indicated on your latest map.”
“You should give very careful consideration to claiming areas which do not make a significant contribution to the agricultural activity of your business as there is a high probability that these areas are ineligible.”
Same arrangements as 2020
All in all, the DAERA confirmed that the arrangements for direct payments in the 2022 scheme year replicate those for the 2020 scheme year, other than the changes arising from the EU Exit, which the guide outlines.
2022 scheme year payments will come from national funds and not EU funds. This is except payments under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme (RDP), e.g. Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS).
DAERA said it will continue to manage approved RDP projects, under the existing EU rules, after EU Exit until formal programme closure in December 2023.