Payments under a range of schemes have been issuing from my Department since September and, in that time, over €1.7 billion has been paid to farmers. Two of the main schemes under which payments are currently issuing are the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme (ANC)
Under EU Regulations, all applications under these schemes must be subjected to robust administrative checks prior to payment. The main element of the administrative check is an area assessment. This is achieved by using the detailed database of individual land parcels. This is known as the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) which currently records, electronically, some one million individual land parcels and which is required to be kept fully updated.
An updated LPIS is being rolled out across the country, starting in County Louth, as part of an action plan agreed between Ireland and the EU Commission to maintain a quality-assured mapping system which underpins all our area based payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The maintenance and further development of the Department’s systems in this critical area will provide additional reassurance to EU and national audit authorities.
Only valid applications under the BPS and ANC that fully comply with the requirements of the relevant EU Legislation can be paid. Consequently, all applications under the schemes are subject to administrative checks. Cases that do not pass the validation process cannot be paid pending a resolution of the error concerned. These errors include over-claims, dual claims, commonage errors and incomplete application forms. My Department enters into correspondence, mainly through the issuing of query letters to farmers, in order to resolve these error cases. In addition, Ground Eligibility inspections are required in respect of 5% of applications. These cases cannot be paid until the inspection process has been completed.
In relation to the BPS, advance payment issued as scheduled on 16th October, the earliest that payments can commence under the governing EU Regulations. In all, an advance payment worth some €747 million issued to 114,500 farmers on the first pay run, representing an increase of 1,500 farmers paid at the same stage in 2018. In all, some 94% of eligible applicants for the 2019 BPS received their advance payment at the earliest date possible.
Advance payments under the ANC Scheme commenced in the week beginning 16th September, with payments in excess of €160 million issued to over 75,000 farmers.
Under both the BPS and ANC schemes, balancing payments commenced issuing as scheduled on 2nd and 9th December respectively. The current position with those schemes is that 120,948 BPS applicants have now been paid €1,153 billion and 94,919 ANC applicants have been paid €0.239 billion.
Regular pay runs are in place to ensure that the small number of applicants not yet paid under these scheme are paid once they become clear for payment.