Ulster Farmers’ Union president Ian Marshall has expressed his concern following the European Commission’s decision to proceed with the publication of individual CAP payments.
The figures have been published on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website for the 2014 EU financial year (payments made between 16 October 2013 and 15 October 2014).
Available data will no longer be restricted to legal bodies, but will include payments to all beneficiaries. However, those receiving less than €1,250 in total subsidy will have their names anonymised. €1,250 is equivalent to £1,045 for financial year 2014.
Mr Marshall said that since 2005 the UFU has objected to the publication of Single Farm Payment Information.
He added: “We have always felt that publishing the individual figures is an intrusion into the affairs of farmers and serves no public interest but simply creates a ‘curiosity shop’ on the internet.”
In November 2010 the UFU had welcomed a European Court ruling stating that publishing the names of farmers and the amount of Single Farm Payment they receive was not a suitable way to achieve public transparency.
Mr Marshall continued: “At that time we were pleased with the ruling and subsequently the UK government removed the Single Farm Payment information from the public domain, which we believe was the right decision. However, in light of this new development, I would like to see that it’s done less intrusively by anonymising the payment information, such as by removing farmers’ names, which should ensure a balance between public scrutiny and the right to privacy.”
Details are available on DEFRA website: http://www.cap-payments.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx.