€1.4m Department clawback demand sent to 4,800 farmers
Average bills of €290 in SFP and DAS payments to be repaid
Thousands of farmers are facing substantial bills from the Department of Agriculture because of changes to the eligible area on which they claimed their Single Farm Payment (SFP) and Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS).
Letters sent out by the Department last week informed 4,800 farmers that the areas claimed on for the SFP and DAS in the years from 2008 to 2010 did not tally with later applications and that €1.4m had been "over-claimed."
The value of the clawback varied from case to case, but averaged close to €300 each. Some farmers were hit with multiple fines, with different letters received for the different years.
The farmers involved were told the Department had now to recoup the "overpayment" and warned that the total amount should be repaid "without delay".
"You should be aware that the above amount, if not recouped directly from you, will be debited from any future payments that fall due to you from this Department," the letters stated.
The problems stem from the digitisation of land parcel maps by the Department in 2011 and 2012. These digitised maps now form the basis for all SFP and DAS applications.
A review of applications from 2009 is now underway in the Department to identify variations between the areas applied for initially and the applications made since digitisation.