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Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots MLA has announced that DAERA officials will carry out a reduced number of cross-compliance inspections during the 2021 Basic Payment Scheme year.

The number of cross-compliance inspections will be reduced from 1% to 0.5%. Inspections associated with the Environmental Farming Scheme will remain at 5% (reduced from 10% to 5% in 2020.)

Announcing the decision Minister Poots said: “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.”