Information and guidance on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform

This page contains information on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

2016 consultations

The Department undertook public consultations on 3 policy areas from 16 February until 29 April 2016.  You can view the consultation documents via the links below:

These consultations closed at 5pm on 29 April 2016.

Outcome of Consultation on Future Support to Areas of Natural Constraint

The Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen announced on 7 December 2016 that she would provide £8 million to fund a one year transitional scheme to support farmers in Areas of Natural Constraint.  Subject to the outcome of the ongoing Budget exercise, the funding will be met from within existing Departmental resources.

The one year scheme will form part of the Rural Development Programme. Claims will be made to this transitional scheme in 2017 with payments made in 2018.  This will be the last year of the scheme.

Outcome of Consultation on Designation of Areas of Natural Constraint

On 7 December 2016 the Minister announced a one year ANC Scheme worth £8 million.  Claims will be made to this transitional scheme in 2017 with payments made in 2018.  This will be the last year of the Scheme.  As there are no plans for an ANC Scheme beyond 2018 the Minister also announced at that time that work on ANC re-designation will cease.

Outcome of Consultation on Review of CAP Coupled Support Options

On 22 June 2016 the Agriculture Minister announced that she has decided not to reduce the Basic Payment Scheme to fund coupled payments, stating that she does not believe there are any convincing arguments to introduce coupled support schemes in Northern Ireland during the current CAP period.

CAP Reform Policy Clarification

The DARD Minister provided clarification on a number of CAP reform issues. 

Pillar I decisions

The DARD Minister announced the CAP reform decisions in 2014 and 2015.

Guidance notes and Q and As

Given the complexity of CAP reform and the impact it will have on farmers and landowners, DARD has prepared a series of guidance notes that provide additional information on the reform process.  

From 2015, entitlements to be issued under the new support regime must be allocated to the person enjoying the decision making power, the benefits and the financial risks in relation to agricultural activity being carried out on the land for which an allocation is requested.  This will have an impact on land let in conacre, therefore DARD has collated a Q and A document to guide farmers and landowners.

The CAP Reform Agreement includes a requirement to designate areas of natural constraint (ANC) by 2018, replacing the existing 'Less Favoured Areas' designation.

The Department sought views on initial draft maps based on the new criteria.  This consultation closed on 29 April 2016. The consultation document is available at the link below:

The paper below, from December 2013, offers information on the progress of the designation process at that time. 

As there are no plans for an ANC Scheme beyond 2018 the Minister announced on 7 December 2016 that work on ANC re-designation will cease.

DARD Consultation 2013

Pillar I - Direct Payments

DARD undertook a public consultation on policy options arising from the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy from 1 October 2013 – 17 January 2014.  The consultation document described the agreed Pillar I reforms and set out DARD’s suggested package for implementing the reform using the various options available to it under the agreement.  

The consultation document was informed by work done by economists from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute using the FAPRI-UK model.  

During the consultation period DARD met with numerous stakeholders to discuss, explain and develop a common understanding of the implications of CAP Reform for Northern Ireland.  

CAP Reform Agreement and Legislation

Legislative proposals to reform the CAP were published by the EU Commission on 12 October 2011.  Following intense negotiations, a political agreement on the reform of the CAP was reached on 26 June 2013 between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.  

On 16 December 2013 the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers formally adopted the four Basic Regulations for the reformed CAP as well as the Transition Rules for 2014.  This followed the approval of these Regulations by the European Parliament in November 2013.  

Links to these Regulations and to subsequent relevant Delegated Acts and Implementing Acts are given below (links to other relevant documents will be placed on this page when available).

Basic Regulations

Transition Regulations

Delegated Acts

Implementing Acts

Next Steps

DARD is now working to put in place the necessary measures to implement the CAP Reform decisions.  Information on this is accessible on the 'Area-based Schemes 2015' section.

Additional Information

In December 2013 the European Commission published information on 'The Common Agricultural Policy after 2013'

The above page includes a link a Commission policy paper which sets out a overview of CAP Reform 2014-2020.  The policy paper can be accessed at the link below;

If you have any comments or questions regarding CAP reform, please send them to

Pillar II - Rural Development Programme

The 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme was adopted by the European Commission on 25 August 2015.  A copy of the Programme can be found at the link below.  

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