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Basic Payment Scheme: Advance Payment

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Emma Little Pengelly Emma Little Pengelly DUP 2:30 pm, 25th October 2016

T5. Mrs Little Pengelly asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, after welcoming her recent announcement that Northern Ireland would be the first region in the United Kingdom to make advance payments under the 2016 basic payment scheme, to state how many farmers have received advance payments at this stage. (AQT 400/16-21)

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question. I am pleased to be able to confirm that 90·72% of eligible farmers have received an advance payment, resulting in £158,474,453 reaching 21,111 farmers much earlier this year than it would have otherwise. I am delighted with that outcome, which exceeds the challenging target of 80% that I had set my officials.

I pay tribute to the staff in Orchard House, who have worked extremely hard to achieve this. We are the first region in the United Kingdom to make advance payments, and I am delighted that we have surpassed our target.

Photo of Emma Little Pengelly Emma Little Pengelly DUP

I thank the Minister for that answer. Has she or her Department carried out any comparative analysis on the demand here or the potential benefit to Northern Ireland compared with the rest of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Michelle McIlveen Michelle McIlveen DUP

I thank the Member for her question. Northern Ireland is, as I said, the first region of the United Kingdom to issue advance CAP payments. This is a significant achievement, and one that the industry has been asking for. In Scotland, for example, payments for 2015 are still being made. Furthermore, the Scottish Government do not appear to be in a position to make any payments in 2016 and have had to introduce a nationally funded loan scheme, to which farmers can apply to receive a loan of 80% of their CAP payment.

This is an important move for my Department, and I am absolutely delighted with the results this year.