Pillar I of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) permits the use of coupled support i.e. a payment directly linked to the volume of output of a specific agricultural product. In June 2014, as part of the CAP reform decisions, the DARD Minister announced that a coupled support scheme would not be introduced but that this position would be kept under review. If coupled support were to be used in Northern Ireland during the remainder of the current CAP mandate, then this would need to be notified to the EU Commission by no later than 1 August 2016.
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.