Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
602. Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of single farm payment and disadvantaged area payments that were clawed back from farmers for each year when he deemed that the farmer had overclaimed an area declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30122/10]
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Deputy Brendan Smith): Under the provisions of the governing EU Regulations, payments under both the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme may be made only in respect of eligible land. Applicants under the Schemes are obliged annually to declare the land parcels available to them and details of the eligible area of the land parcels are recorded onto the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), my Department’s computer-based land parcel tracking system. As LPIS underpins all the direct payments, it is crucial that it accurately reflects the true position on the ground.
It is also necessary for applicants to exclude ineligible features such as scrub, roadways, etc. Therefore, the LPIS database has to be amended on an ongoing basis to reflect any permanent changes such as parcel boundary changes, addition of new parcels, etc. In the vast majority of cases, applicants make sufficient deductions for the ineligible features. However, where over-claims are detected and confirmed, the appropriate sanctions, as defined in the governing EU Regulations, must be applied. Indeed, from the point of view of the integrity of the entire SPS/DAS processing system within my Department and mindful of the combined value of payments under these Schemes — in excess of €1.8 billion annually (including REPS) — it is crucial that LPIS accurately reflect the position on the ground and, furthermore, that any breach of the governing rules are dealt with appropriately.
As mentioned, the vast majority of applicants under both the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme traditionally make sufficient allowances for ineligible areas and, consequently, do not suffer the consequences of over-claims. To date, since the advent of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005, the monetary value of over-claims under both SPS and DAS is some €4.6 million, which represents 0.06% of the €7.7 billion paid under both schemes during the period in question.
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