Verification of mapping analysis for 270 farms

Martin Ryan

Ground verification of satellite mapping analysis is now being carried out on more than 270 farms from which single farm payments (SFP) for 2013 have been withheld by the Department of Agriculture.

The combined value of the SFPs for the farms is estimated at around €10m, but they also face a potential demand for up to €40m if the Department of Agriculture backdates recovery of overpayments to 2009.

Meanwhile, farm organisations have claimed that farmers were being "utterly bamboozled" by the number of issues which have arisen over the digital map analysis of 130,000 farms which labelled areas no larger than 1/100ha as "exclusion parcels".

ICMSA deputy president, Pat McCormack, said that he has been contacted by numerous farmers complaining that the level of detail and quibbles on mapping issues being raised by the Department was grossly unfair and seemed to insinuate that farmers were deliberately trying to mislead officials.

The Department had to accept that farmers use and understanding of maps had lagged their own state-of-the-art access to digital mapping and IT, said Mr McCormack.

He added that 99 out of every 100 farmers had made applications in good faith and no one other sector in Ireland would be expected to put up with such unfair "moving of the goalposts".

Tim O'Leary, deputy president IFA, has advised farmers to appeal against exclusion parcel decisions where they felt the finding was unfair as figures showed that up to 30pc of appeals were successful.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture told the Farming Independent that maps had been issued to over 130,000 farmers, some of which included exclusions identified under the LPIS review.

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In the letter accompanying the maps, farmers are advised to examine the exclusions and maps carefully and of their right of review, should they consider that the position as outlined did not reflect the "reality on the ground".

"In relation to the 270 or so applicants where the level of over-claim was greater than 20pc with no payment due, these cases are the subject of a ground verification visit carried out by officials of this Department in order to ensure that the LPIS determination was accurate or not," said the spokesman.

"This process is still ongoing," he added.

Indo Farming

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