The following Area-based Schemes are currently available from DAERA:
• Basic Payment Scheme (BPS);
• Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS);
• Protein Crops Scheme (PCS);
• Young Farmers Scheme (YFP);
• Small Woodland Grant Scheme [SWGS]
• Forest Expansion Scheme [FES]
• Woodland Investment Grant [WIG]
• Forest Protection Scheme [FPS]

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)basic payment scheme image

The BPS is the largest area-based scheme available in Northern Ireland, and was introduced in 2015 to replace the Single Farm Payment. Farmers wishing to apply for BPS must submit a Single Application each year, must be actively farming at least 3 hectares of land, and must hold an equivalent number of BPS ‘Entitlements’ (more information on Entitlements can be found here Entitlements & Transfers.

Total Direct Payments – Financial Ceiling

The 2024 total ceiling for direct payments in Northern Ireland has been confirmed. This will be used to calculate BPS entitlement values, the Young Farmer Payment, the Protein Crop Scheme and the Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme for the 2024 scheme year.

This ceiling has been confirmed as £293,527,012. This is equivalent to Northern Ireland’s 2023 ceiling. It is important to note that this ceiling is prior to deductions for capping being applied.

Under the Direct Payments to Farmers (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is required to determine and publish the total ceiling for Northern Ireland.

Guidance and Forms

This includes relevant guidance, Questions & Answers (Q&A), regarding the Basic Payment Scheme (and also contains some information on Protein Crops Scheme) to guide you and give you some relevant information on the Scheme. 

Enviromental Farming Scheme (EFS)Mountain View image

The Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) offers participants a 5-year agreement to deliver a range of environmental measures and has three levels:

  • a Higher Level, primarily for environmentally designated sites and other priority habitats
  • a Wider Level to deliver benefits across the countryside, outside of environmentally designated areas. EFS Wider is no longer available for new applicants.
  • a Group Level to support co-operative action by farmers in specific areas such as a river catchment

Applications which deliver most environmental benefit for the scheme objectives of restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality and mitigating against climate change will receive priority entry into the scheme.

Guidance & Forms       

Further Information and guidance on EFS can be found at:

Protein Crops Scheme (PCS)

DAERA  introduced a farm payment for particular nitrogen fixing crops, which are also referred to as protein crops in 2021. The Protein Crops Scheme (PCS) is an additional payment to farmers for growing beans, peas and sweet lupins. The scheme was piloted in 2021 and 2022 and is to continue in 2023. Farmers do not have to claim the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in order to be eligible for PCS, however land used to grow protein crops may be claimed for both BPS and PCS. Dual use claims are not permitted, i.e. both schemes cannot be claimed on the same field parcel by different farmers.

  1. Protein crops are defined as:
  •   Spring Peas
  •  Spring Field Beans
  •  Winter Field Beans
  •  Spring Sweet Lupins
  •  Winter Sweet Lupins 

The forage crops clover, alfalfa and lucerne are not eligible for aid under this pilot scheme.

More information can be found in the Guidance below.

Guidance and Forms


Young Farmers' Payment/Regional Reserve

Young Farmers' PaymentYoung Farmer Image

 The YFP provides an annual top-up to the BPS for those applicants who meet the YFP eligibility/evidence criteria. “Young farmers” are natural persons who are setting up for the first time an agricultural holding as HoH ((Head of Holding)- To be Head of Holding means the applicant must be exercising effective and long-term control over the business in terms of decisions related to management, benefits and financial risks) or who have already set up such a holding during the five years preceding the first submission of an application under the BPS and who are no more than 40 years of age in the year of submission of their first application for the BPS. Legal persons may be granted access to the scheme if they meet similar conditions.

From the 2022 scheme year, the length of time a farm business can receive the YFP, even if there is a change in the HoH during that period, is limited to five years. More information can be found in the Young Farmer(YF) Regional Reserve (RR) Guidance below (insert link)

Regional Reserve

The RR is used to provide entitlements for Northern Ireland farmers under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in certain situations. The number of entitlements allocated or topped up from the RR or a combination of both is limited to 90. From 2022, DAERA will take into account any entitlements that have been transferred out by lease, sale or gift, either temporarily or permanently, by a business during the year of application to the RR and the previous two years when calculating any allocation of new entitlements from the RR.

The allocation of new entitlements to the business will be reduced by the same number as was transferred out of that business. The transfer out of entitlements does not impact on the number of remaining entitlements that can be topped up to the Regional Average Value (RAV).

As this change becomes effective from 2022, only transfers out in 2022 will impact on any allocation from the RR. The RR will provide funding which will enable DAERA to allocate entitlements or to top up existing entitlements to the RAV of entitlements for certain categories of farmers. It must be used to allocate payment entitlements to Young Farmers (YFs) and New Entrants (NEs).

DAERA may also use it to make awards to farmers who were prevented from being allocated entitlements as a result of a force majeure/exceptional circumstances (FM/EC) incident and farmers eligible for revised entitlements following a court ruling or administrative act by DAERA. Further information and relevant forms can be found in the Guidance section.

Guidance & Forms

Forestry Grants woodland image

The schemes listed below can all be claimed using the Single Application.

These schemes are currently closed:

  • Small Woodland Grant Scheme (SWGS),
  • Forest Expansion Scheme Annual Premia (FEAP)
  • Farm Woodland Scheme (FWAS) and
  • Farm Woodland Premium Scheme (FWAP)

The following Schemes are separate paper based applications which are currently opened:

  • Woodland Investment Grant
  • Forest Protection Scheme

Further Information can be found on Forestry Grants at DAERA forestry grants | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (

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