Farmers fear criminals may access online payments data
FARMERS are demanding security measures be put in place to keep track of who has access to information on the €1.8bn in EU payments to more than 130,000 farmers.
Farming organisations are calling for a registration system - at the very least - but would still prefer the payments remain anonymous, and are set to raise the issue with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
It comes as a leading agriculture expert said the details of the payments to individual farmers around the country could be provided with "more privacy".
However, Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College, argued it is "perfectly legitimate" to publish the details of the larger firms.
There was a flurry of activity on the website as the information required to be uploaded under EU transparency measures showed more than 330 farmers and rural businesses received more than €100,000 in direct payments from Brussels last year. It highlighted the stud farms, agricultural colleges and meat processors that were among the big beneficiaries of €1.8bn worth of payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
It includes payments to farmers under schemes such as the disadvantaged area payments, aid for the fruit and veg sector and environmental schemes.
John Comer, president of the ICMSA, said that his association has genuine concerns about the fairness and security of such a move at a time when rural residents are being targeted by criminals.
He called for a degree of "supervision" over who is accessing the list and why they are accessing the list.