SDLP Position on CAP reform

11 04 2014


The SDLP have come down in favour of a single zone region for CAP Pillar 1, and a four year transition period to achieve a single flat rate payment across Northern Ireland

What has happened with the CAP Reform?

  • A political agreement was reached on CAP in the European Council of Ministers in June 2013.
  •  It paves the way for changes to be made to the support arrangements for farmers and for the development of the next rural development programme, with regional variation allowed.
  •  The Single Farm Payment Scheme will be replaced by a Basic Payment Scheme with Greening conditions.
  •  New Young Farmer Entrants scheme (for people less than 40).
  •  The Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neill has yet to make the decision on the model of payment model.
  •  Great uncertainty about entitlements relating to the 2014 Single Farm Payment application

What is the SDLP position?

The SDLP have come down in favour of a single zone region for CAP Pillar 1, and a four year transition period to achieve a single flat rate payment across Northern Ireland

Why did the SDLP make this decision?

The key factors influencing this decision are:

  • The principle of fairness and equality
  • The sustaining and development of family farm based rural communities
  • A sensible period of four years transition  to allow for necessary adjustments

What happens next?

There has been too much uncertainty and confusion allowed to grow since the debacle over the Pillar 1/Pillar 2 transfer at the end of 2013 which is adding to the anxiety surrounding the CAP Pillar 1 issue.

SDLP believe that the sooner the Minister for Agriculture concludes this issue, the better for all concerned in the farming sector.

Moyle SDLP Councillors call for single flat rate payment of Single Farm Payments

11 04 2014



Moyle SDLP Councillors Margaret Anne McKillop and Dónal Cunningham have called for a single zone region for CAP Pillar 1, and a four year transition period to achieve a single flat rate payment for Single Farm Payments across the North.


After attending the party’s Agricultural Conference in Co Tyrone, Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop said


“We strongly support the party’s call for a single zone region, splitting the north into two or more regions makes absolutely no sense ,and would amount to little more than an attempt to create a two tier system of payments , something that would no doubt disadvantage and discriminate against most of the farming families in the Glens of Antrim. It is vital that we fight our corner and robustly support the implementation of a single region model”.


Councillor Cunningham continued


 “The SDLP has listened to a wide range of farming groups and agri-sector stakeholders. The key factors influencing our decision are the principle of fairness and equality, the sustaining and development of family farm based rural communities, and a sensible period of four years to allow for necessary adjustment.


“There has been too much uncertainty and confusion allowed to grow since the debacle over the Pillar 1/Pillar 2 transfer at the end of 2013 which is adding to the anxiety surrounding the CAP Pillar 1 issue.”




Single Farm Payment delays leaving farmers under pressure

20 01 2014


Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham says delays in Single Farm Payments are leaving some farmers under pressure and struggling to pay bills.

Councillor Cunningham continued “Concern is mounting as some farmers have revealed they are facing pressure to pay their autumn bills.”

“The picture is really only starting to emerge. Farmers who have contacted the SDLP say they were expecting to receive their Single Farm Payment two to three weeks ago. They’re saying they would use that payment to pay suppliers for a variety of items, such as meal and fuel bills and, in some cases, the banks.

 “Now, they’re saying they’ve been told their land is to be inspected and they’ll have to just wait. Farmers are saying they should have been forewarned that payment would be delayed because at least they would have had time to make alternative arrangements to pay off suppliers and keep them happy, and in other cases, negotiate with the bank.

 “What we’re seeing is serious pressure being placed on the finances of some farmers, and their cash flow. In some cases there is already enough pressure, so they don’t need this.

“I will be raising the matter with our Agriculture spokesperson, Joe Byrne MLA, who is vice-chairperson of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, to ensure the concerns of farmers are heard at the Assembly. “

Increased Permitted Development rights for farmers welcomed

15 07 2013

Agricultural buildings
Moyle SDLP Councillors Catherine Mc Cambridge and Dónal Cunningham have welcomed the announcement from the Environment Minister Alex Attwood of new permitted development rights which will increase the range of agricultural development that no longer needs planning permission.

From August 2013 farmers will now be able to construct buildings up to 500 square metres without the need for a planning application (the equivalent of over 5,000 square feet). Currently they can only erect up to 300 square metres without the need for a planning application.

Councillor McCambridge said:
“From a farmer’s point of view it is important to eliminate as far as possible any unnecessary red tape and to assist agriculture in a challenging economic climate.”

Councillor Cunningham continued:
“I am particularly pleased at how these new rules will support renewable energy technologies and follow on from the move earlier this year which allows farm buildings to install solar panels without planning permission. Farmers now have the opportunity to seize the benefits of renewable technologies such as anaerobic digesters a treatment process which can use farm crops and animal waste to produce biogas which can be used as a fuel to power and heat the farm and reduce costs.”

Where are the hardship payments for Farmers?

16 04 2013

Sheep at Torr

Joe Byrne SDLP MLA and Vice Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, has asked DARD why no hardship cash payments have yet been paid to farmers badly affected at a meeting of the Agricultural Committee today.

Senior officials at today’s meeting outlined how the fallen animals’ collection of dead sheep and cattle as a result of the recent snow storm has been progressing. Over 20,000 sheep and 700 cattle have been collected. The two rendering companies designated by DARD have been doing the collection at farms as requested through the DARD helpline system.

Joe Byrne said ‘Farmers who have suffered the losses of dead sheep and cattle in the affected areas have still received no hardship cash payments. I am astounded that DARD has not yet made a minimum threshold cash aid payment to those who have registered with DARD.

“Many of these farmers are in severe financial difficulties with restricted banking facilities. They need help now, and I am calling on the DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to make immediate cash payments to those farmers in immediate need. She needs cut through bureaucratic red tape until the final compensation losses can be assessed.

‘Finally there has to be a greater urgency to bring immediate relief to those farmers who are suffering badly.’’

Farmers who lost livestock urged to protect their LFACA claims

12 04 2013




dead sheep


Moyle SDLP Councillors Dónal Cunningham and Catherine McCambridge have urged local farmers who have lost livestock as a result of the recent snow to protect their 2014 Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances claims by informing the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of the details of their losses.

Councillor Cunningham said

“Farmers who have lost stock need to contact the Department of Agriculture before the 15th May to protect their LFACA claim.

According to DARD special forms will be available from the 17thApril from their offices or from their website, we would urge all farmers who experienced livestock loss to use the form to report the exceptional circumstance and not risk their claim being based on the number of animals that have survived as opposed to their original flocks.

“As these claims are made on the 2013 Single Application Form and require the farmer to have appropriate stocking density between 1st April and 31st October 2013, many farmers will no longer meet the required stocking density due to the exceptional circumstances of their loss through the severe snow”.

“We will be more than happy to assist any farmers with the completion of these forms”


£5m hardship scheme for farmers welcome

29 03 2013

Sheep and Lamb 


SDLP Councillors Dónal Cunningham and Catherine McCambridge haves welcomed news that the Executive has agreed a £5m hardship scheme for farmers hard hit during the cold weather crisis and said there can be no bureaucratic or undue delay in getting emergency cash payments to farmers.

 Councillor Cunningham said: “It is good news that fallen livestock will be collected and disposed of free of charge. This will help lift the financial burden off farmers who have not only lost valuable income but will be out significant sums of money as they try to cope with this loss.

 “The SDLP also welcomes news of an emergency hardship fund and we eagerly await details of that scheme. It is vital that emergency cash payments are made as soon as possible to those farmers in need. DARD officials cannot allow any bureaucratic or undue delay to tie assistance up”.

“We would urge all affected farmers to make immediate contact with DARD for eligibility purposes and application forms.  Should any farmer experience problems or delays with clarifications on eligibility or payment purposes, please do not hesitate to contact us so that representations can be made to DARD.

 “Crucial to this experience is the need for the Assembly Executive to have an adequate emergency scheme in place which is capable of dealing with such unprecedented events.  It is important that such a co-ordinated alleviation package swings into action immediately in the wake  of extreme weather events.  Communities including farmers need to be assured that the Executive has measures in place to work in partnership with local communities to provide humanitarian and farming aid – that is the lesson that must be learnt from this extreme weather event”.

Farmers’ hardship won’t melt away with snow

29 03 2013

dead sheep 

Ballycastle SDLP Cllr Dónal Cunningham and his colleague Cllr Catherine McCambridge have called for a one off fee waiver on the collection of livestock which has perished during the heavy snow fall.  

Cllr Cunningham said: “We met and heard from many farmers throughout the area who continue to be badly hit as a result of the treacherous weather conditions. A number of these farmers have lost valuable livestock and on top of everything else, they are now looking at substantial fees for the collection of fallen stock.

 “There is a genuine case to be made for special arrangements to be put in place to collect dead stock free of charge or at the very least at a subsidised rate”.

  “We welcome the fact that our Party colleague Joe Byrne called an emergency meeting of the Agriculture Committee in Stormont and have asked him to raise this issue and urge the committee to take action to help farmers deal with the aftermath of this crisis. The hardship facing farmers won’t melt away with the snow”.

If there’s a will to help farmers there’s a way

29 03 2013


SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham has said bureaucracy and red tape should not stand in the way of giving immediate assistance to the hard pressed farmers in the Glens of Antrim who have suffered losses as a result of the from unprecedented weather related circumstances.

 Councillor Cunningham continued: “It is now crucial that the Assembly Executive makes key decisions around some immediate cash payments to farmers to alleviate the current hardship many are experiencing particularly hill farmers in the Glens of Antrim.

 “Bureaucracy and red tape should not be allowed to stand in the way of immediate help and assistance being given to farmers who are and have suffered losses and serious hardship as a result of the heavy snow fall. If there’s a will in the Executive to help farmers, there’s a way”.

Farmers urged to check new farm maps

16 12 2012


Glens of Antrim SDLP Councillor Catherine Mc Cambridge has urged local farmers to carefully examine and scrutinise in detail their new farm maps which will soon be issued by the Department of Agriculture.

Cllr Mc Cambridge said, “When farmers receive their maps and the accompanying advice letters, they should carefully check their own individual circumstances, it is vital that they report to the Department any discrepancies as failure  could lead to loss of their Single Farm Payment.

Farmers need to declare enough eligible hectares to support their SFP claim.

DARD will be issuing advice on how to check the new maps so it is vital that farmers should take their time to read the advice and if unsure seek assistance from the Department.