UFU welcomes Minister’s announcement on early payment of LFACA

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed Agriculture Minister O’Neill’s announcement that payments for the 2013 Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowance (LFACA) will be released earlier than anticipated.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “Following our meeting with the Minister, where we highlighted the severe cash flow difficulties facing many farmers across the Province and tabled a number of proposals to alleviate these problems, we are very pleased to hear that the Minister has acted swiftly on one of these and announced that LFACA payments will be made three weeks earlier than last year.  This will mean that the first payments are due to issue towards the end of February and it is hoped that 90% of all LFACA payments will be with farmers by mid-March.
This is an important first step in recognising the difficulties farmers are facing on the ground and we hope that the Minister will urgently consider the rest of the initiatives that we proposed that are badly needed to ease the immediate financial and practical pressures on our members.”

UFU Hill Farming Chairman John Sheridan added; “LFACA payments are a vital element of incomes for those faming in areas facing significant natural handicaps and so hill farmers will be relieved to hear that their LFACA payments are on the way.  This should help to ease cash flow pressures which have been compounded by soaring input costs and those struggling to deal with the aftermath of the last few year’s bad weather and difficult grazing conditions.  

“However whilst the Minister’s announcement is timely and will help to alleviate pressures in the short term, it will not solve the underlying problem of reduced margins in the red meat sector due to inadequate farm gate returns.  I would therefore encourage all farmers to carefully review their financial budgets to keep costs under control, whilst the UFU will continue with its efforts to address the dysfunction which exists within the supply chain to guarantee producers a fairer share of the end price."