The Department of Agriculture made deductions to 169 farmers’ 2021 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) monies after it was proven that land had been burned during the closed season and rendered ineligible for area-based payments.

The combined sum of these BPS payment deductions and administrative penalties presently stands at more than €207,000 for the year and represents approximately 1,850ha, the Department told the Irish Farmers Journal.

This figure is subject to change, given the ongoing processing of applications and appeals relating to 2021 BPS payment deductions and penalties.

Mayo was the county with the highest number of farmers losing out in their payments, as 27 farmers saw a total of €32,000 taken from their BPS in deductions or penalties.

Counties Cork, Kerry, Laois and Carlow were other counties where more than 20 farmers had BPS payments deducted or penalised. Farmers in Co Kerry lost €70,843 in BPS payments, the greatest monetary amount attributed to any county.

Deductions v penalties

Land burned between 1 March and 31 August is ineligible for payments under EU rules. These lands remain ineligible even when investigations determine that the source of a fire was unintentional.

Where the lands rendered ineligible are less than 3% of a BPS applicant’s claimed area and less than 2ha in size, a payment is made on the claimed area minus the burned area.

When the area is greater than 3% of an applicant’s claimed area or more than 2ha, the Department applies “administrative penalties” in addition to deduction.

“Where land that was identified as being burned during the closed season and is claimed on a BPS application, the application is processed based on the reduced area and payments made accordingly on the remaining eligible lands,” a spokesperson from the Department said.