Case study: farmer’s BPS penalty cut from 200% to 15% on appeal

The independent Agricultural Appeals Office dealt with a case in 2022 which saw a penalty on a farmer reduced from 200% to 15% of their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

The farmer involved had a penalty of 200% imposed on their BPS after paperwork submitted to the Department of Agriculture suggested their lands were stocked more than five times higher than permitted.

The livestock declared by the farmer in their BPS application showed a stocking rate of 894kg organic N/ha on paper, over five times higher than the 170kg N/ha limit allowed for non-derogation farmers.

However, the farmer later claimed to have been grazing their stock on a farm owned by an elderly relative with diminishing health and when this land was factored into their stocking rates, the figure was diluted well below 170kg/ha.

The relevant records required to notify the Department of a short-term grazing agreement were not submitted by the farmer, who claimed to have been unaware of the requirement to submit them.

The appeals officer ruled that the non-compliance with scheme’s conditions was administrative and paper-based, having “no detrimental impact” on nitrates regulations’ objective of preventing water pollution.