5,600 eligible ANC applicants selected for satellite inspection

5,652 farmers who lodged eligible applications for the Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) scheme this year had their lands inspected by satellite.

This figure was confirmed by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue in response to a parliamentary question from Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill.

The minister said: “A total of 5,652 eligible ANC applications have been selected for a remote sensing inspection in 2020.

Of these, a total of 4,465 have received an ANC advance payment. Of the remaining 1,187 cases, 971 have yet to meet their stocking density requirements, which must be met in order for payment to issue; and the balance have other errors which have yet to be resolved.

“My department is pressing ahead with processing of clear cases on a daily basis to ensure that ANC advance payments issue as quickly as possible,” Minister McConalogue stated in his answer.

The minister noted that advance payments commenced in mid-September, with payments issuing to 86,000 farmers in the first tranche, up from 79,000 farmers in the first tranche of 2019. As of September 25, over €187.2 million has been paid out.

In a response to a separate question from deputy Cahill, Minister McConalogue highlighted that 6,483 farms were inspected by satellite in 2020, across all area-based payments.

This figure was a reduction on the figure for each year across 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

The minister explained: “The process associated with remote sensing/satellite inspections involves a number of stages, including the selection of cases for inspection as part of the annual risk analysis process; the acquisition of imagery from the EU Commission at two stages during the year…and a comprehensive review of the range of satellite imagery to ensure compliance with scheme requirements.

“In addition, where it is not possible to make an accurate determination on the eligibility of a parcel or parcels of land by means of an assessment of the imagery, a field visit must be undertaken to verify the position on the ground,” he added.