Northern Ireland Environmental Farming Scheme inspections underway

Inspections for Northern Ireland’s Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) farms are about to begin.

Participants will have already claimed for the first year of their EFS agreement on the Single Application Form (SAF) in May and, like all other area-based schemes, inspections are set to follow.

A Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) spokesman said: “Inspectors will visit a number of farm businesses in the coming months to check if they have carried out the Environmental Farming Scheme work claimed for in the Single Application Form.

The inspection process should be straightforward and penalties avoided if all this work has been completed to the required standard.

“These standards are clearly explained in the EFS Information Sheets which are available on the DAERA website and in the site-specific Remedial Management Plans for the Higher scheme which are on the DAERA online services portal.

“If you have trouble accessing these you should contact your local DAERA Direct office.

Notification

“Farmers will be notified if they have been selected for inspection a few days before the actual visit and this will give some time to have other items such as field records brought up to date.

“We’re aware that a number were granted an extension to their agreement, providing more time to complete work and this has been factored into the timing of their inspections.”

The spokesman outlined the steps to take for a straightforward inspection:

  • Make sure you have claimed the correct amount on SAF – claims can still be reduced without penalty if you haven’t been informed of an inspection or notified of an issue with your claim;
  • Check that you have completed the work to the required standard – EFS Wider Level Information Sheets and EFS Higher Level Information Sheets are online now;
  • You may need to bring field records up-to-date – check on your information sheet/Higher Level agreement.