Northern Irish farmers will see a reduction to cross-compliance penalties for 2021, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.
When farmers apply for funding through area-based schemes they agree to comply with statutory management requirements (SMRs) covering the environment and animal welfare, among others.
In addition, they also agree to maintaining all their land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAECs).
Farmers are inspected to ensure that they are meeting these requirements as part of good farm management practices.
Where they do not, a cross-compliance penalty can be applied which reduces the level of funding they receive.
The penalty regime includes two penalty matrices which set out the penalties to be applied depending on whether a non-compliance is found to be either intentional or negligent.
Announcing the change to the matrices, Northern Ireland's farming minister Edwin Poots said some of the penalties will be lower for 2021.
But he added that farmers could still receive a penalty of up to 100% of funding for the most serious cases.
“Now that we have left the EU, I have asked my Department to look at how cross-compliance can be made to work better, helping farmers to improve where needed while still protecting our environment and our food standards.
“While that work is taking place, I have decided to reduce some of the penalties that farmers receive when they do not comply with the cross-compliance standards.
"These changes will keep Northern Ireland in line with other administrations within the United Kingdom,” Mr Poots explained.