Most Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) participants have 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 follow claims with the first EFS inspections now under way.
A DAERA spokesperson commented on the process: “Inspectors will visit a number of farm businesses in the coming months to check if they have carried out the EFS work claimed for in the SAF. The inspection process should be straight forward 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 On-Line Services portal. If you have trouble accessing these you should contact your local DAERA Direct office.
“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 of farmers applied for and were granted an extension to their agreement, providing more time to complete work and this has been factored in to the timing of their inspections.”
The spokesperson outlined the steps to take for a straightforward inspection;
q 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.
q Check that you have completed the work to the required standard – EFS Wider Level Information Sheets are on-line at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-wider-level
q EFS Higher Level Information Sheets are available at:
https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-higher-level or your EFS Higher Level agreement which is available on your DAERA On-line Services portal
You may need to bring field records up to date. Check on your information sheet/Higher level agreement. Blank record sheets and examples of completed records can be printed off at the following links;
q EFS Wider Level - https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/environmental-farming-scheme-wider-level-field-records, and
q EFS Higher Level - https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-higher-level-terms-and-conditions
q If you have any queries contact Countryside Management Delivery Branch via 0300 200 7842