Approximately 160 Higher and 370 Wider offers will be issued as part of the fourth tranche of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS).

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots explained it would see the department commit to a spend of around £8 million for the scheme.

Agreements will continue to issue into January 2021 for the scheme which supports farmers to undertake measures to help climate change mitigation, support biodiversity and improve water quality through a range of options.

Making the announcement, Minister Poots said: “The EFS represents a long-term investment in our environment and I thank those farmers who are stepping up to undertake this important environmental work.

Farmers applied for the scheme earlier this year, and, as the necessary checks have now been completed, I’m delighted to see these agreements being issued.

“I would ask all recipients to read their agreement carefully and complete all agreed work to the standards specified.”

All eligible farmers who applied for EFS Wider, or who worked with a planner to submit a remedial management plan for EFS Higher, will receive an offer of agreement in their DAERA Online Services portal over the coming weeks.

The agreements must be accepted online within the specified timeframe.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, all those who accept the offer of an agreement will have until December 31, 2021, to complete the work applied for under the scheme.

This gives farmers an extra seven months to complete the agreed work.

The Environmental Farming Scheme is funded under the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme.