Mapping rebuild: Farmers urged to check entitlement eligibility figures

Affected farmers are being urged to check their land parcel details and Maximum Eligible Area (MEA) figures following the phased rebuild of the national land mapping system.

Details of the new Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) – which will determine direct payments such as Basic Payment Scheme payments for farmers – were outlined by officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine this evening (Wednesday, March 6).

Farmers and agricultural advisors gathered in Gormanstown, Co. Meath, for an information event on the new system – starting with one county – organised by department representatives.

The system revamp is being conducted by the department to honour a legal requirement at EU level to ensure the most up-to-date mapping system possible for the distribution of the €1.5 billion in EU funding, following European audits.

The key difference will be the shift from traditional 6in Ordinance Survey Ireland (OSi) maps to the department using the OSi’s current national map – the Ordinance Survey Ireland Prime 2 database.

The system rebuild has begun in Co. Louth, with the county live on the new system for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications for 2019. The new process will see all land parcels renumbered into new 10-digit allotments.

Boundary realignment

Boundary realignment has been highlighted, with parcels updated to reflect current changes in the landscape, according to the department. These changes come in the form of parcels splitting, if crossed by a road or river, or merging if former administrative boundaries no longer exist on the ground.

The changes have brought about “minimal” increases and decreases to Gross Area (GA) and Maximum Eligible Area (MEA) figures in the county.

The key point stressed repeatedly by department officials on the night was for farmers to closely examine their parcel and MEA details under the new system.

Farmers in Louth were urged to examine parcel details closely to ensure that there is an eligible hectare to match each entitlement, and establish increases or reductions in eligibility.

Changes in such amounts are outlined on the ‘Statement of Land Details’ section of documentation sent out to farmers in their BPS application letters, officials explained.

Appeals

Under the new system, where payment have been reduced under the remapping, farmers who appeal the decision will be paid the lower amount until the topic is revisited by the department.

A number of attendees at the meeting expressed concerns that any farmers who made appeals in the past had their payments delayed and were “put to the bottom of the pile”, discouraging appeals – at least until after payments had been issued.

Department representatives responded to concerns by saying that the process was changed in 2016, allowing lower payments to be issued to prevent overclaims, with the rest of the claimed payments subject to an appeal review.

Where next?

With Co. Louth live on the new system for 2019, next on the agenda is the transformation of counties Meath, Monaghan and Cavan, according to the department.

The system will be progressed on a county-by-county basis through to 2021 when the transformation is expected to be complete.

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