Surge of BPS forms before deadline

A last-minute surge of single applications were submitted by NI farmers before the 15 May deadline, DAERA figures indicate.

By midnight last Wednesday, DAERA received 24,145 applications, which is similar to last year when 24,208 forms were submitted before midnight on 15 May.

In the week before the deadline this year, around 10,000 applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) were still to be filed by NI farmers.

Since last Wednesday, a further 86 applications have been sent in, although late penalties will apply. The final deadline for submitting single applications is midnight on 10 June.

Almost 100 premises inspected for safety

A recent safety initiative which mainly focused on farm vehicles, resulted in almost 100 premises being inspected by the Health and Safety Executive for NI (HSENI).

A freedom of information request by the Irish Farmers Journal found that 58 transport-focused inspections took place on farms and 39 happened at agricultural contractors.

The campaign ran from November 2023 to March 2024 and resulted in 69 improvement notices being issued by HSENI inspectors on 39 individual premises.

“Common issues included lack of training around quads and telehandlers, poor maintenance of machinery, and lack of thorough examination of telehandlers,” a HSENI spokesperson said.

The freedom of information request also found that no enforcement notices were breached and there have been no prosecution proceedings to date relating to the recent campaign.

Soil scheme to open for northwest farms

Farmers in the northwest will be able to register for the Soil Nutrient Health Scheme from 24 June to 31 August, DAERA has confirmed.

The free soil testing project gives participants details of the soil nutrient status of their land, as well as an estimate of overall carbon stocks on their farm.

Participation is a requirement for claiming the new Farm Sustainability Payment and all farms in NI have been divided into four zones as part of a phased roll out of the scheme.

The third zone, which covers Co Derry and parts of north Tyrone, will be sampled during the 2024/25 winter. The final zone, which covers the northeast of NI, will follow in 2025-2026.

Donaldson appointed CEO of Thompsons

Gordon Donaldson has been appointed chief executive of NI’s largest animal feed supplier, John Thompson and Sons.

He takes over from Declan Billington, who has headed up the Belfast-based firm since 2005.