DAERA officials will carry out fewer cross-compliance inspections during the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year.
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA made the announcement on Thursday, June 17th, 2021.
He confirmed that he has reduced the number of cross-compliance inspections from 1% to 0.5%.
“Inspections associated with the Environmental Farming Scheme will remain at 5% (reduced from 10% to 5% in 2020.)”
“2020/21 has continued to be a difficult period for our farmers. Now, more than ever, we are all aware of the importance of our farms as food producers.
“As we continue on the pathway to recovery from COVID-19 it is important that we remain vigilant and continue with the basic steps of social distancing and washing hands.”
“I have, therefore, decided to reduce the number of cross compliance inspections for the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year to help keep the number of people accessing farms to a minimum.
“Along with the continued use of alternatives to an on-farm visit, which have proved to be effective, I believe this will help protect farmers and staff from any potential future increase in COVID-19.”
Successful pilot Protein Crops Scheme
The minister has also welcomed the positive uptake amongst farmers of the pilot Protein Crops Scheme (PCS).
He confirmed that 95 farmers have planted protein crops this year – an increase of 300% on 2020. Besides, there has been an increase in the total area sown of 450% compared to 2020.
The minister said the scheme will encourage the domestic production of plant protein crops to help feed herds.
He outlined the following “multiple benefits”:
- Substitution of products currently imported from abroad;
- Promotion of sustainable crop rotation and disease management practices;
- Diversification of agricultural industry.
The DAERA is piloting the scheme in 2021 and 2022 as the first step in introducing new agricultural policies, “which better reflect the specific needs of the farming industry in Northern Ireland”.