There has been a threefold increase in the number of penalties handed out to NI farmers over the past two years, the Irish Farmers Journal can reveal.

Figures obtained from DAERA show that 933 rule breaches were found during cross compliance inspections last year.

It compares to 561 breaches identified during checks in 2021 and 294 breaches were found the year before that.

The most common issue in cross compliance checks relates to cattle identification and registration, with these rules responsible for one-third of all penalties last year.

Slightly over 20% of all breaches were due to regulations on preventing nitrates pollution and a similar proportion stemmed from rules on landscape features, such as hedgerow removal.

The rising number of penalties matches an increase in the amount of cross compliance inspections carried out by DAERA.

There were 1,989 inspections in 2022, up from 1,554 cross compliance checks the year previous and 1,242 inspections in 2020.

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