Get your figures right for land eligibility pro-rata bands

Up to 10% of a land parcel can consist of scattered, small ineligible areas, but the parcel will be fully eligible, thanks to EU legislation which provides for a pro-rata system to facilitate area reductions up to 10%.

However, if over 70% of the parcel is ineligible, it is deemed 100% ineligible.

Farmers unaware of this could get a shock later in the year when all the numbers have been crunched by the Department of Agriculture, warns Jerry O’Sullivan, a farmer in Ballingeary, Co Cork, and a local politician.

He said this information was in the “A Guide to Land Eligibility Direct Payment Schemes” booklet posted to farmers in mid-May, two months after they received direct payment scheme application forms.

“Many farmers may have already returned their applications, believing that all land eligibility has been decided over the last couple of years.

“Most farmers have very little time to read closely what is in effect a new system,” warned Mr O’Sullivan. “We do not want a repeat of the genuinely held suspicion amongst farmers that rules are created by the Department of Agriculture to remove eligible land from more marginal farms in this most important of years,” he said — referring to 2015 Basic Payment entitlements being based on eligible hectares declared in 2013 or 2015, whichever is the lower.

He said the Department of Agriculture will calculate the pro-rata bands, but it is the farmer who will give the Department the numbers to be calculated.

He warned farmers not to expect a one-hectare deduction if declaring 10% ineligibility in a 10-ha land parcel.

Instead, the Department will remove two hectares, because 20% is their pro-rate deduction for all parcels in the 10-30% band of declared ineligibility in applications.

But if farmers apply with a 9% deduction (or anything less than 10%), the Department will treat the entire parcel as eligible.

Where widely scattered rock accounts for up to 10% of a redlined area, for example, no reduction applies to the reference area of the parcel.

A 20% reduction applies from 10 to 30%.

A 40% reduction applies from 30 to 50%.

A 60% reduction applies from 50 to 70%.

Where the area to be excluded exceeds 70%, the full area must be deducted.

Mr O’Sullivan said if a Basic Payment application is submitted by the mid-night on Friday, May 29, 2015 deadline, an applicant can still make amendments to their application, without penalty, up to June, 15, 015.

In order to apply in the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme, completed application forms should be returned to the Direct Payments Unit, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Old Abbeyleix Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, or submitted online to the Department. It is not permitted to submit an application through a local office, or any other Department office.


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