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State of the art monitoring technologies for EU agriculture


Today, the first ever Conference on Control with Remote Sensing (CwRS) of Area-based Subsidies held in a New Member State takes place in Budapest, Hungary. Marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of the system and the 10th such Conference, it brings together a record number of 300 representatives from government and industry working within information technology, imaging instrumentation and support of farmers. The central issue of the conference is the fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), adopted in September 2003. This reform implies important changes and adaptation in the management and control systems of the Member States, for which the development and use of Remote Sensing, geomatics , information & communication technologies are essential.

Using innovative Geographic information system (GIS) technology, satellite imagery and land parcel identification systems (LPIS), the European Commission is helping to prevent agricultural subsidy irregularities. Through better monitoring of the CAP the Commission is ensuring that subsidies are distributed more quickly, efficiently, fairly and reliably.

The objective of the MARS (Monitoring Agriculture with Remote Sensing) Programme is to continue developing a control system which suits the CAP Reform with its different schemes and to make operational High and Very High Resolution imagery in risk analysis, and fraud detection. The Programme is working towards allowing farmers to determine their agricultural parcel boundaries more precisely and file more accurate subsidy applications. LPIS digital data enables the production of customised maps to be sent to farmers as part of the subsidy application procedure. This helps farmers in an expanded EU to complete their forms more accurately, reduce errors and facilitate administration.

Aerial photography and High Resolution Satellites have been in use for a long time in Remote Sensing Controls of area-based subsidies. What is new is the application of Very High Resolution satellite data that started with a successful test phase of 15.000 km² area coverage carried out in 2003. This continued with a successful operational programme reaching 50.000 km² in 2004, and the aim is now to reach 140.000 - 150.000 km² in 2005. It is expected that, each year, five million farmers and farming businesses will declare more than 50 million agricultural parcels.

In total, participants from 32 countries are taking part in the Conference, including all 25 EU Member States. Of the 10 which joined the EU this year, 8 have already adopted the Single Area Payment Scheme (SAPs ). In addition, there are participants from Candidate Countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Croatia), and 3 further countries from outside the EU (Switzerland, Israel, and Macedonia).

In 2004, 22 Member States used the CwRS approach for their agricultural controls. More importantly, in 2005, a further 10 Member States will adopt the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). The remaining five (France, Finland, Greece, The Netherlands and Spain) intend to do so in 2006. However, Statutory Management Requirements (SMR) on, for example, environmental issues are applicable to all countries that were EU members before 1 May 2004. In addition, the important Cross Compliance Rules with Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) are applicable in all 25 MS from 2005 onwards.

For more information please contact:
Antonia Mochan +32 2 296 9921, +32 498 969921
Michael Mann +32 2 299 9780, +32 498 999780

1. The discipline of acquisition, storage, analysis, dissemination and management of geographically referenced information for improved decision-making.

2. The new Single Payment Scheme (SPS) poses a problem for the new Member States as it is not possible to calculate payment entitlements for their farmers on the basis of the same historical reference period as used in the EU-15 (2000-2002). Consequently, the proposal foresees that the new member states apply the “Single Area Payment Scheme”. This means that uniform per-hectare entitlements would be granted within any one region from regional financial envelopes (the level of the per-hectare payment would be calculated by dividing the regional envelope by the regional utilised agricultural area, minus areas of permanent crops and forests). The regional envelopes themselves would be calculated by dividing the national envelope between regions. A national reserve, out of which additional entitlements could be granted for sector specific issues, would be set at 3% of the national ceiling, as for the current Member States. Additional resources could also be channelled to farmers in specific sectors such as organic farming.

Antonia Mochan | alfa
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