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Agriculture Minister Gordon Lyons MLA has brought forward to the Northern Ireland Assembly new regulations aimed at ensuring the continued smooth delivery of direct agricultural support to farmers in 2021.

Speaking in the House on Monday 22 February, Minister Lyons outlined how leaving the EU has provided Northern Ireland with an unprecedented level of regional discretion and flexibility with regard to future agricultural support in Northern Ireland.

The regulations agreed by the Assembly provide the legal basis for the 2021 Scheme Year and ensure that farmers will receive their payments in October.

Minister Lyons said: “We now have the opportunity to develop an agricultural support framework better suited to local needs, one of the benefits of leaving the EU, one that will provide for and secure long term sustainability within our industry. The Regulations I brought forward, and agreed by the Assembly are the first step in this transition.”

The Minister highlighted that the Direct Payments to Farmers (Simplifications) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 will give legal effect to the simplifications and improvements announced by his predecessor Edwin Poots MLA in November 2020.

He added: “These regulations will allow direct agricultural support schemes to be simplified for both applicants and those administering the schemes. It will also ensure that in future it remains possible to introduce coupled support schemes in Northern Ireland. This has allowed me to introduce a Protein Crops Scheme for 2021 and 2022.”