UK farm payments to be paid at current levels for four years
But Ulster farmers warn of threat to British food security
The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) has welcomed confirmation by UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, that funding for agriculture will be retained at current levels until 2022 at least.
However, Northern Ireland's farm body warned that the UK's food security could be jeopardised by what he described as an imbalance of funding in favour of the environment and away from food production.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference last week Mr Gove said current farm payments would be honoured for the next four years, with the possibility of them being extended until 2024.
UFU president, Barclay Bell, said Mr Gove's comments was positive news for farmers.
But Mr Gove told the Oxford conference that funding for farming beyond 2022 would be linked to the delivery of public goods.
Citing his desire to deliver a green Brexit, he said more of the €2.9bn currently spent on the basic payment scheme would be targeted at rewarding farmers for opening up the countryside and other environmental initiatives.
Mr Gove said actions such as the retention of wildflower meadows, planting greater numbers of trees and protecting habitats would also attract greater financial support.
But Mr Bell warned that redirecting funding away from core farming activities would be counterproductive.