LPIS review leaves farmers facing claw-back fines of €15m
Irish farmers face fines of €15m to €20m as a result of the controversial land parcel identification (LPIS) review, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has confirmed.
Claims for the claw-back of €5m in EU direct payments have already been issued by the Department of Agriculture, but the admission by Minister Coveney that the final amount could be four times that level is certain to provoke outrage among farmers.
It has also emerged that close to 7,500 farmers, or 6pc of the 130,000 applicants for direct payments, face claw-backs of between 20pc and 50pc of total payments.
Minister Coveney told farmers at the ICMSA annual general meeting in Limerick on Friday that the level of fines could be increased five-fold to €100m by the EU Commission unless the Department continued with the review process.
"Where payments have been made on ineligible land, the Commission wants its money back. This is public money and we have to pay it back," Minister Coveney told 350 dairy farmers at the conference.
"If we don't sort out this problem ourselves, Brussels will come in and solve it for us," he warned.
"That has already happened in other European countries. France has been fined €260m, the UK has been fined €100m and Italy has been fined €180m."