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Latest round of environmental farming scheme opens next week

The second tranche of the Wider Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) opens next week with funding available for work including hedge planting

FARMERS have been urged to avail of the latest round of funding for an environmental scheme, which opens next week.

The Ulster Farmers' Union is encouraging members to consider applying for the second tranche of the Wider Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS), when it opens on August 20.

The Environmental Farming Scheme is a voluntary scheme that compensates farmers for undertaking work to enhance biodiversity and water quality and reduce the impact of the global warming.

More than 1,000 farmers are currently completing a range of environmental projects under the 2017 Wider scheme that enables them to farm in an environmentally friendly manner.

UFU environment chairman, Wilbert Mayne urged farmers to get involved in the scheme.

“As in the first tranche, the scheme is focused on addressing specific environmental needs, the usual options are still available, including arable options, hedge planting and laying and fencing off watercourses. Farmers should be aware that it is not a ‘whole farm' scheme but offers a range of options which most should be able to avail of. I would encourage farmers to consider the scheme and give themselves plenty of time for completing an application."

A DAERA spokesperson advised potential applicants to carry out some research before applying to the scheme.

“EFS is different to previous agri-environment schemes. The usual options are available, including establishment of agroforestry, arable options, protection of watercourses, hedge planting and hedge laying, but we would advise farmers to read information regarding the scheme before applying.

“Information can be obtained from the DAERA website. Our advice is to only choose the options and amount that you can carry out, remembering that most options must be completed by June 1 2019. Once you have made your choices, the application is a simple on-line process but you do need to be registered with DAERA on-line Services.”

Applications to the Wider EFS close on September 21 and further information can be obtained at: www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-wider-level.

The UFU would also remind existing EFS participants who have claimed for their agreement on the Single Application Form (SAF) in May that inspections are now under way. Farmers will be notified if they have been selected for inspection a few days before the actual visit and it is important that farmers who have submitted claims have met the conditions of the scheme and completed all necessary work.

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