Agriculture Minister reassures Rathfriland meeting over CAP reform

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has told a meeting in Rathfriland that her officials are working diligently to support farmers through the changes brought about by CAP reform.

Urging farmers across County Down to be prepared for the new regulations, she said her officials at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will do all they can to advise farmers on the best way to make the changes work for them.

The Minister said: “My Department is working hard to make the new schemes as easy as possible to understand, to provide you with the support that you need, to continue to reduce the risk of disallowance, and to build on the level of online claims achieved in 2014.

“While, firstly I want to ensure that the important monies that CAP reform provides are more targeted, more equitable and easily accessible, it is also important to make clear that despite my desire for a simpler CAP regime, the new schemes are greater in number and more complex. Therefore, I want to ensure that you have all the information and tools available to help you make informed decisions.

Around 200 people turned out for the information evening at Rathfriland Community Centre. After the Minister spoke, an official from DARD delivered a presentation which took those attending through the new reforms step by step.

Minister O’Neill said that under the Basic Payment Scheme a set of new payment entitlements will be allocated to farmers who apply and meet the eligibility conditions. One of the key conditions is that entitlements will be allocated to the person having decision making power in relation to the agricultural activity. And she said her Department has undertaken a review of all farm businesses which submitted a Single Farm Application form in 2014