Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Plan to recoup controversial fines from farmers' SFP

Declan O'Brien and Darragh McCullough

The controversial fines arising out of the Department of Agriculture's review of past Single Farm Payments (SFP) and Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) applications will be taken out of farmers' direct payments this autumn.

It is understood that the Department intends to claw back the disputed payments from the first tranche of SFP monies that are due to be paid in October.

The monies will be deducted from farmers' SFP entitlements even where the fines are being appealed by farmers.

Some 4,800 farmers have already been issued with demands for €1.4m in farm grants to be repaid because of discrepancies between the old paper-based maps and the newer digitised maps.

BLOW

It has since emerged that the review of payments will affect up to 10,000 farmers who made SFP and DAS applications between the years 2008 and 2012.

It is also expected that modulation of between 8pc and 10pc will apply to all SFP entitlements greater than €5,000. This will be applied to the October tranche of the SFP and the balancing payment in December.

In addition, farmers will face a cut in their SFP entitlements this year due to a 3pc reduction in the overall CAP budget. This was agreed as part of the EU budgetary negotiations earlier this year.

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It has been suggested that a 4pc cut in SFP entitlements could be imposed on all payments over €2,000. However, this has not been finally agreed.

In other payments news, the Department has announced that it will commence payments for the €200m DAS on September 23.

However, the Department has pointed out that payments will only be made on fully processed applications that had no errors and met the minimum stocking density requirements.

REQUIREMENTS

Under the 2013 scheme, farmers are required to have the equivalent of one ewe per hectare on average during the year and also for at least seven months in succession.

More than 71,000 farmers were paid €155.8m when payments commenced in September 2012.

Irish Independent