Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots, has added a further £15.5m to his department’s BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) budget.
He made the revelation at an address at Balmoral Show yesterday (Wednesday, September 24th, 2021).
Minister Poots confirmed to industry stakeholders that his department will pay the extra cash next month.
As reported by us earlier this year, Poots confirmed several changes to BPS entitlements in 2021.
Speaking at the agricultural show in Northern Ireland, the minister said:
“I am pleased to announce that I have decided to supplement the BPS budget by £15.49 million this year.”
“This means that each farm business will see the value of their payments increase by 6.29% or approximately £800.”
“This will be a welcome boost and is vitally important given the ongoing increases in the cost of farm inputs.”
The boost comes on top of a permanent 4.3% uplift in BPS payments worth £8m, which he announced in 2020.
Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio
He also told guests that his recently published Future Agricultural Policy Framework Portfolio document was the “single most important agricultural policy development in the past 50 years”.
Minister Poots said: “We can be truly proud of what has been achieved in agri-food over the past 100 years.”
“Today, our produce can be found anywhere from Dungannon to Dubai, Fortnum and Mason to our newest pop-up farm shop just around the corner.”
He said he desires to build on that success and provide a solid foundation for the next 100 years of farming.
The minister stressed that agriculture has proven that it is “adaptive and resilient” to change.
“The next 100 years will be no different. My role is to encourage, even drive the agenda and support the next revolution,” he remarked.
He intends to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of farm businesses by means of on-farm investment.
To date, his department has offered £43m in grant support under the Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital.
During his address, the minister also touched on climate change and the NI protocol.
He said he had made every possible representation to ensure the UK and EU decision-makers fully understand the consequences of the current arrangements.
Minister Poots told stakeholders:
“Alongside a global pandemic, this year my department also had the challenge of maintaining the flow of agri-food goods, plants and animals from Great Britain to Northern Ireland through our ports, following the unacceptable and unworkable nature of the NI Protocol.”
He said it is evident that current arrangements are:
- Firstly, disrupting normal trade processes;
- Creating barriers to the free movement of goods. These include plants, trees, cereal seeds, pets and breeding livestock within the UK;
- Also, placing “unnecessary and unacceptable” burdens on his department and businesses alike.
“I can assure you that I have made every possible representation to ensure that UK and EU decision-makers fully understand the consequences of the existing arrangements.”
He said climate change is an issue that causes many farmers concern.
The minister warned that “well-meaning but ill-thought solutions” threaten the viability of Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.
“To wipe out 30% of our manufacturing industry, our largest exports, a £5 billion industry employing over 100,000 people is lunacy.”
“Farming with investment and support can continue to provide food for growing world demand in harmony with the environment,” he concluded.