19,418 farm over-claim letters issued

Up to last week, farmers had got 19,418 letters alleging over-claims of single farm payments due to some of the claimed area being ineligible.

The over-claim has no impact on payment for 75% of the farmers, because they declared more land than payment entitlements.

And a further 18% have a minimal payment reduction and reimbursement of money drawn down on land that was ineligible.

Where the difference is less than 3%, or two hectares, aid is reduced to reflect the lower eligible area. Where the difference is more than 3%, but less than 20%, aid is based on the lower eligible area, reduced by twice the difference between the area determined and the area claimed (or entitlements held, if lower).

Where the difference is more than 20%, but less than 50%, there is no payment for a scheme year.

Where the difference is more than 50%, there is no payment for a scheme year, and a multi-annual sanction based on the value of the single farm payment on the area over-declared, to be offset against any payments in the following three calendar years.

All 950,000 land parcels on all farms are being reviewed for over-claims.

Any payments made to farmers in respect of claimed areas for 2013 which were found to be ineligible must be reimbursed.

No decisions have yet been made in respect of previous years.

Farmers receiving over-claim letters are also informed of the appeals process if they disagree with the Department of Agriculture’s findings.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney says the government is legally required to collect money that was drawn down on land that was ineligible for payments.

The European Commission has imposed fines on other countries that have not responded satisfactorily.

“The Commission calculates the level of overpayment, multiplies that figure by five and applies that disallowance or fine to Ireland.”


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