Statistics show fall in overseas SFP claims

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Mr Lambe’s case is certainly an interesting one - a man resident in one of the biggest cities in the world claiming Single Farm Payment on a farm several thousand miles away in Northern Ireland.

However he is certainly not alone and a Freedom of Information Request submitted by Farming Life has revealed details of the many claims made from overseas over the last 12 years.

Going back to 2005 hundreds of Single Farm Payments claims have been submitted to and paid out by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to residents living outside Northern Ireland.

In 2005 alone claims were received from applicants in 11 different countries with a 12th category of applicants marked ‘unknown’.

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland top the list with 179 and 144 claims respectively. However the list also features the likes of Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. Around Europe claims were submitted from Norway, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland with four also coming from the Isle of Man.

2005 also saw 32 claims made from ‘unknown’ locations, 30 of which were paid out.

Fast forward to 2016 and the number of claimants from different countries is greatly reduced.

Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland continue to be the largest area for applicants but the numbers from elsewhere are significantly reduced or gone altogether.

A single application was received from Australia which, the statistics show, was not paid. Two were received from the United States of which one was paid , while the solitary application from ‘unknown’ was also paid.

There is no explanation for the significant reduction in the number of applications from other areas, however changes in the rules such as the description of what constitutes an active farmer is certain to have played a part.