Some 85% of the required 2014 farm inspections were carried out via satellite, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

He said in response to concerns about the impact of on-the-ground inspections on farmers, that 6,715 cases or some 85% of the required 2014 inspections are initially being carried out without the need for a farm visit as the information needed is acquired using the technique of remote sensing via satellite.

Minister Coveney said the Department, in the context of delivering the Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, and other area based schemes, is required to carry out an annual round of inspections, both in the field and by means of Remote Sensing, to ensure the eligibility of land declared to draw down payments.

Land eligibility checks must be carried out on at least 5% of applicants, he said.

The Minister said the EU Regulations governing Remote Sensing inspections also require that 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 available satellite imagery, a field inspection must be undertaken to verify the eligibility of the land.

“My Department continues, on a daily basis, to process applications to finalisation with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible.”