T6. Mr McAleer asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs when he will be in a position to give farmers clarity for the time ahead, particularly in relation to the future of the entitlements that they currently hold, albeit he appreciates that the agricultural policy is out for consultation and its conclusions cannot be pre-empted. (AQT 1646/17-22)
A lot of the entitlements were based on farming activity between 2003-05 or 2005-07; it was in and around that period. We will probably have a new policy in 2022-23. Entitlements should be based on activity now, not on something that happened 18 to 20 years ago.
A lot depends on the House and how it wishes to cooperate. Obviously, I am keen to get a bespoke policy that may not suit every person but encompasses as many people as possible in a system that works for them. I will need the assistance of the Committee and, indeed, the House to deliver that. We should all work towards that, because we have a system that has been there for a while. Is it a bad system? No. Is it a system that can be bettered? Yes, so let us get a better system.