Have you considered applying to the EFS?

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Would you like to have an opportunity to improve your farm business, whilst at the same time helping to protect the environment?

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affair’s newest agri-environment scheme, the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS), provides financial support to farm businesses in return for a five year agreement to undertake environmentally beneficial farming practices, primarily focused on biodiversity and water quality.

The Scheme offers a wide choice of options for farmers, and you will have the ability to select which option best suits your farming needs. The Scheme is divided into two levels - Wider level and Higher level.

EFS Wider level aims to deliver benefits across the countryside outside of designated sites, whereas the EFS Higher level is tailored for land that is within an environmentally designated area or a priority habitat or species area.

EFS agreement work undertaken and managed by a farm business may include:

q protective fencing for watercourses

q new hedgerow planting

q creation of small woodlands and other tree planting

q organic farming

q provision of winter feeding sites for wild birds

q site specific remedial management plans

Around 1400 farm businesses are already benefitting under the Scheme and are currently in the process of submitting their first annual claim via the online 2018 Single Application service. If you already have an EFS agreement, remember – the closing date for claims is 15 May 2018.

The application window for Tranche 2 of EFS Higher level closed last month, with 538 farm businesses applying. These applications are being processed, and applicants will be contacted by the Department in due course. A further application period will open in 2019.

If you are considering applying to the EFS, a Wider Level application period will open in August this year. Notifications will appear in the farming press and on the DAERA website (www.daera-ni.gov.uk).

For further details on EFS please fell free to speak with DAERA staff at the DAERA Countryside Management display in the Eikon Exhibition Centre at Balmoral Show.

Full information on the EFS scheme is also available on the DAERA website, http://www.daera-ni.gov.uk. Customers are also supported by the EFS Advisory Team via Telephone on 0300 200 7848.