Around 1,000 cereal farmers in Ireland will see their claims for European Union grants rejected after a high tech surveillance scheme detected that the information they provided was false.

Officials from the department of agriculture explained that the farmers’ applications for EU grants, made under the Area Aid Arable Scheme (AAAS), were doubled-checked using satellite photographs. These images can tell the difference between arable, forage and grass areas on farmland.

In 2001, the agriculture department paid out almost €130m (US$190m) under the AAAS to nearly 16,000 cereal farmers. This was up 8% increase on the previous year.

Now however, “about 1,000 [farmers] are now deemed not to have been eligible and they are being written to at the moment,” a spokesman from the department told the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

“The area of penalties is being looked at now – what penalties should apply to different situations. The penalty will differ on a case-by-case basis.”

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