DAERA to cut number of farm inspections for 2020

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture has said it cut the number of inspections it plans to carry out for the 2020 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) year, Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced.

Minister Poots said he made the decision to reduce the number of inspections in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect farmers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) staff.

“I have consistently highlighted the key role of our farmers during this current crisis and the added pressure they have faced in continuing to provide food for us all,” Minister Poots said.

In these exceptional circumstances, we all need to play our part and adhere to social distancing measures to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“I have, therefore, decided to reduce the number of inspections to be carried out by my department as part of the 2020 BPS year.

“To further reduce non-essential travel, I have introduced legislation to allow the use of alternatives to an on-farm visit where possible.

“I believe these additional measures will help reduce the burden on our farms during a very difficult year.”

BPS inspections will be reduced as follows:

  • BPS inspections reduced from 3% to 1%;
  • Greening inspections reduced from 5% to 3%;
  • Environment Farming Scheme inspections reduced from 10% to 5%.

All routine departmental farm inspections in the region were temporarily paused on March 27 as measures ramped up against Covid-19. Farm Quality Assurance Scheme and Red Tractor inspections were also halted.

Speaking in May, Minister Poots said he planned to “gradually reintroduce” inspections to add to the essential ones that carried on during lockdown.