Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 19 November 2017

Department set to publish details of farmer payments

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The details of €1.8bn in EU direct payments to 130,000 farmers and rural enterprises will be published by the Department of Agriculture this year.

In a move which has sparked anger among farmer bodies, the Department confirmed to the Farming Independent that it will publish details of all EU CAP payments for 2014 before May 31.

Up to €1.2bn in CAP funds is paid out to the country's farmers each year under the single farm payment scheme.

Farmers and companies receive a further €600,000 under such schemes as the disadvantaged area payments, environmental schemes like REPS and forestry supports.

The Department said the decision to publish payments was required under new EU Commission regulations. It pointed out that only CAP payments totalling over €1,250 would be published.

It is understood that the payments will be published on the Department's website and will include the name of the recipient, their address and the total amount received under all CAP schemes.

Farm organisations have expressed anger at the Department's decision.

ICMSA president, John Comer, said his association had genuine concerns about the fairness and security of such a move.

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Mr Comer said farmers accepted the need for transparency and openness but he warned that there were well-grounded fears that publishing details of direct payments would arouse the interest of criminals who target rural dwellers and the elderly.

"We have a major problem with a publicly accessible website or list that gives the name, address and amount paid to individual farmers in an environment where we know that there are criminal elements who deliberately target rural residents," Mr Comer said.

IFA deputy president Tim O'Leary said the publication of single farm payment details for individuals would be an invasion of privacy and the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, should protect the rights of farmers and resist any attempts to breach their right to confidentiality.

ICSA president Patrick Kent said the decision to publish payments was "an unacceptable invasion of privacy for farmers," particularly where farmers were getting sums which were "not out of line with what social welfare recipients receive."

"It serves no useful purpose to publish the names and amounts received. It is useful to have a handle on the distribution of CAP payments but there is no need for the excessive intrusion and bureaucratic effort involved in naming every single beneficiary," Mr Kent said.

While over 200 farmers and businesses receive more than €100,000 in annual CAP payments, the average payment to farmers is in the region of €9,000.

The publication of CAP payments to farmers was halted in 2010 on data protection grounds following a challenge taken on behalf of a German farmer. However, the practice is now being resumed under new regulations.

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