Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced that Northern Ireland farmers are to receive a total of £3.6 million in reimbursement payments from the European Commission.

The financial discipline mechanism was created to ensure that Direct Payments do not exceed the EU budget limit.

Due to the creation of an EU Crisis Reserve, the financial discipline mechanism is triggered each year.

Member States are required by European Commission Regulations to apply a percentage reduction to Direct Payments over €2,000 which is then released back to farmers the following year, if that reserve is not required.

Welcoming the reimbursement, Minister Poots said:

Approximately 21,000 farmers in Northern Ireland will receive Financial Discipline Reimbursement payments this week.

"This is money our farmers are entitled to and would normally be paid in December each year when balance payments are being issued.

As confirmation has now been received from the European Commission on the UK reimbursement, I have authorised these further payments to commence.

"As we are leaving the EU it will mean there will no longer be a Financial Discipline applied in advance and therefore farmers will receive their full entitlement each year and no refund will be required the following year."