Eye in the sky is replacing inspections on farm payments

Missing animal tags is an issue for farmers
Missing animal tags is an issue for farmers

Martin Ryan

Less than one per cent of farmers can expect to have an actual visit from a Department of Agriculture inspector on Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in 2016, as the digital eye in the sky replaces the manual task for the majority of farm inspections, reports Martin Ryan.

The change over to satellite supervision under the scheme continues to accelerate with about 5,600 farms to be assessed from the sky in 2016. To comply with EU regulations, close to 1,000 farms will have an "on the ground" inspection carried out to check their eligibility for the payment.

Con O'Brien, regional officer for the Department of Agriculture South West, told farmers at an ICMSA area meeting in east Limerick that the level of compliance under the BPS is very high and "the vast majority of the inspections are now being carried out by the eye in the sky" and a subsequent ground inspection only follows if problems are noted.

He added that farmers who have had a problem in the past are "more likely" to be selected for a further inspection than those who have a record of being fully compliant.

"An issue many farmers appear to have a problem with is tagging - animals missing tags - but many of them are of a minor nature and do not incur a penalty. Farmers are allowed to have a percentage missing one tag, and if tags are ordered before the inspection it is not a problem," he said, adding that paperwork over farm-to-farm movements was a bigger issue.

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