Concern about the cross-compliance inspections being carried out by the Rural Payments Agency, has prompted the NFU to write to junior minister Lord Bach.

The union claims its members have had inspections which fall well short of the “light touch” that DEFRA had suggested farmers would see.

A common complaint is that inspectors are getting upset if a 2m uncultivated margin dips below the required width at any point.

This is even if other parts of the margin are wider than 2m, said a spokesman.

Tim Bennett, union president, said: “I hope that the heavy-handedness reported by our members is simply a few RPA inspectors being over-zealous during the early stages of the inspection process.

“Nevertheless, I thought it was prudent to raise the NFU’s concerns with Lord Bach in person and in writing.”