It was recently reported in the Irish Farmers Journal that four powerful polar-orb?iting satellites will inspect all Irish farms every five days from 2023 onwards.
Initially, the satellites will collect information to monitor farmer compliance with the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) payments and all other schemes from 2024.
The Department of Agriculture is required under EU Regulation 1306/2013 to carry out administrative checks on aid applications to verify the eligibility conditions which will also be supplemented by on the ground spot checks.
Member states are allowed to use remote sensing and global navigation satellite techniques as a means of carrying out on the spot checks on agricultural parcels.
While the terms and conditions for the application for BISS are not yet published, based on the 2022 terms and conditions for BPS/Greening payments, the Department will make it a requirement of the application that the farmer is subject to the inspections provided by the satellites and they agree to permit Department officials to carry out on-farm inspections.
The farmer will also agree that any lands declared as part of the application can be inspected by the satellite imagery or aerial photography, or indeed on-farm ground inspections.
In addition, the Department is required by EU legislation to ensure that at least 5% of farmers are selected for inspection under all schemes.
Farmers have understandably raised GDPR issues. However, the application form has a detailed data protection notice.
This will set out the basis under which a farmer’s personal data is obtained and processed and the various rights and remedies that the person has arising from the GDPR legislation.
The Department will state that the failure to provide all the personal data required to determine eligibility will result in it being unable to process the application.
Each particular scheme will have its own legal basis, as outlined in the terms and conditions provided by the Department for that scheme. The legal basis for the collection of the data is pursuant to the EU Regulation 1306/2013.
Given the high level of detail that the satellite imagery provides, it is essential that the application for this and any subsequent schemes is as accurate as possible, so as to avoid penalties and clawback.