On Thursday morning, Minister for Agriculture in Northern Ireland Edwin Poots presented the outline of the future agricultural support policy to the Stormont Assembly.

The new farm sustainability payment, previously referred to as a resilience payment, replaces the current support scheme which runs to 2024 and will continue with area-based claims.

The current entitlements attached to each farm business will automatically roll over into the new scheme.

Following public consultation, the initial proposal that claims could only be made on a minimum area of 10ha has now been reduced to 5ha. This is an increase from the 3ha minimum under the current scheme.

Farming with nature

However, the new policy includes a “farming with nature” package that will provide incentives for restoring habitats and farmers with a claim of 3ha, or greater, can avail of such funding.

All farmers will be able to trade and lease entitlements, including those falling below the minimum claim area.

Livestock support

A £50m fund will provide targeted support to improve efficiency measures and lower carbon emissions within the beef sector.

This pot will be split between two measures, with the first being a suckler cow payment, aimed at reducing calving intervals and getting more heifers calving at 24 months.

A second payment is available for finishing beef cattle at a younger age. Both payments will be available over a four-year period with a graduated move to reaching target age limits.


No support payments will be available for sheep, but the minister did point to the high number of livestock farmers operating mixed cattle and sheep systems.

In addition, work is being undertaken with regard to efficiencies in the sheep sector and future supports may be introduced if deemed appropriate.

Farmers whose only agricultural activity during 2020 and 2021 was growing grass for sale will be excluded from making a claim under the new farm sustainability payment.

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