Controls for Protein Aid Scheme to reduce on-farm inspections

Controls for this year’s Protein Aid Scheme will, for the first time, be undertaken remotely through the use of the Area Monitoring System (AMS).

Checks by Monitoring (CbM) is an automated and continuous process which will use satellite data along with other data sources to determine the agricultural activity on all land parcels declared by farmers under the Protein Aid Scheme in 2021.

To facilitate the implementation of the AMS, which will be compulsory in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020, a phased introduction is being implemented by Ireland for various schemes over the interim period.

First phase

The first phase will see CbM being used for the Protein Aid Scheme in 2021 resulting in the reduction of on-farm inspections and quicker notification when problems arise.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the new notification system aims to minimise the occurrence of non-compliance.

Benefits for farmers of the new system of CbM include:

  • Reduced number of on-farm inspections;
  • Quicker notification when problems/queries arise;
  • Farmers can respond to queries by sending in geotagged photographs where appropriate;
  • Farmers will have the opportunity to amend their payment claim without penalty.

Checks by Monitoring

In 2018 the European Commission introduced changes to the regulations that allowed member states the option of using CbM in place of the current on-the-spot-controls (OTSC).

The CbM process in 2021 will allow for the notification of Protein Aid Scheme applicants of a potential non-compliance with the scheme requirements in relation to crop type or activity.

Where such a potential non-compliance is identified, a notification will issue on the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) online system. If a farmer is signed up for text message alerts, a text will issue to advise them that they have a notification on their BPS account.

Where a farmer has applied online through an advisor, the advisor will receive notification via the BPS online account in respect of any clients. Farmers who have applied through an advisor will also get a text message alert where they are signed up for this service.

Geotagged photographs or other documents may be requested as part of the notification. The department has said that in certain cases, it may be necessary to verify the position on the ground by means of a farm visit.

Protein Aid Scheme

The Protein Aid Scheme is a voluntary coupled support scheme introduced in 2015.

It provides support for the growing of protein crops to counteract the dependence on imported protein for use in animal feeds.

In addition, these crops – which are nitrogen-fixing – provide environmental benefits. The rate of payment varies from year to year depending on the number of hectares claimed in any given year, within a financial ceiling. In 2020, this ceiling was €3 million and remains at €3 million for 2021.