NORTHERN IRELAND'S Department of Agriculture (DAERA) has issued Direct Payments to 99% of its eligible farmers on day one of the payment window.

Full or balance direct payments worth £85.6million commenced with 23,609 of the province's farmers having their payment released on December 2. This comes in addition to the £195.4million previously issued in advance payments in October/November.

A DAERA spokesman said: “Today, 99% of farm businesses will receive their full or balanced payments on day one of the payment window – a record breaking achievement. This included 95% of farm businesses subject to land inspections.

“Payments will begin to reach farm business bank accounts from December 5, 2019. The Department continues to work hard to pay the remaining claims as quickly as possible.”

DAERA stressed that balance payments can only be made on fully verified claims. Full payments will be made to those with fully verified claims who could not receive an Advance Payment at that time.

As the Department had obtained permission from the European Commission to make advance payments at 70% of claim value, balance payments will comprise the remaining 30% of claim value.