Northern Ireland

EU farming subsidies total £320m for Northern Ireland

cows in a field
Image caption Farming subsidies from the EU of £326m were shared between 25,000 beneficiaries

Farmers, rural businesses and government here have shared more than £320m in EU payments between them.

The figures are in details of money distributed in 2018 under the Common Agricultural Policy.

The cash goes on subsidies to farmers and on support for rural communities.

Between them, more than 25,000 beneficiaries shared £326m, though hundreds received only very small amounts of support.

The figures are about £18m up on last year.

They show that the single biggest payment was to the Department of Agriculture which got more than £6m.

That money was spent on a range of services, including "knowledge transfer" which provided training to hundreds of farmers on business efficiencies.

Subsidy payments for individual farm businesses ranged from £226,000 down to 2p.

The Education Authority got more than £142,000 to support school milk schemes.

The College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise which trains students for jobs in agriculture, horticulture and food got £270,000, mostly as a result of its land holdings.

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute - an arms-length body of government which supplies scientific services to the department and industry - got £112,000, again due to the amount of land it controls.

Image caption NI farmers will no longer receive subsidies from Brussels when the UK leaves the European Union

Several councils also received sizeable sums. They administer EU money that is invested in rural communities.

Projects were able to apply for funding to establish small businesses, to invest in village renewal, health and leisure facilities and rural broadband.

Any individual recipient who received less than €1,250 (£1,108) had their name redacted.

Individual farmers subsidies depend on the amount of eligible land they farm. There are top-up payments for fulfilling environmental criteria and to encourage younger entrants to the industry.

The National Trust and Ulster Wildlife Trust got £280,000 and £68,000 respectively for help with agricultural work that benefits the environment.

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