Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland farmers 'lose' fields in mapping error

Fields
Image caption Fields were missing from thousands of government maps

Thousands of farmers in Northern Ireland found they had "lost" fields after an error in the government maps used to process an EU subsidy.

Maps are sent to farmers applying for the Single Farm Payment.

However, there were more than 3,000 errors in maps sent to farmers applying for the 2013 subsidy, with many omitting fields.

In a statement the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) said the glitch had been fixed.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said farmers who received an incorrect map would get an extension to the application process.

"This extension will allow affected farmers two more weeks (up to 8 March) to advise DARD of any necessary changes and still allow them four weeks to complete their single application form before the 15 May deadline," she said.

"Whilst this time is shorter than originally planned, where farmers have advised us of changes in time, these will be included on the single application, which will help in completing the application form."

Ulster Farmers Union president Harry Sinclair said the error had put farmers under pressure, but he welcomed the decision to delay the application process.

"Our members have made it very clear to us that they would much prefer to receive a correctly pre-printed Single Farm Payment application a little later, rather than receiving an incorrect one earlier," he said.

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