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Over 7,000 farms get lower subsidies due to irregularities

Over 7,000 farms get lower subsidies due to irregularities

Aerial view of a farm near Appenzell in eastern Switzerland (Keystone)

The federal authorities last year cut direct subsidies paid to 16% of all Swiss farms due to irregularities often due to animal protection and welfare issues.

In all, 7,145 farms, or 16% of the total, received lower payments, the SonntagsZeitung wrote on Sunday. The report was based on figures that have yet to be published by the Federal Office for Agriculture, but which were confirmed by the economics ministry. Five years ago, 10% of farms had their subsidies cut.

In 2017, Bern paid out CHF2.8 billion ($2.9 million) in direct subsidies to around 45,000 farms. The cut subsidies represented CHF7.9 million, or CHF1,100 per affected farm.

Around half of the penalties were irregularities linked to the protection and welfare of farm animals.

The Swiss Farmers’ Union, meanwhile, blames mounting bureaucracy.

“Every year, the demands and documents required are increasingly complex. With so much paperwork, errors can easily appear,” it said. The Federal Office for Agriculture has gathered some 800 proposals from farmers to combat bureaucracy, which should be discussed before the end of the year.

On September 23, Swiss residents are set to vote on two proposals to promote sustainable agriculture in Switzerland and ethical food. Both proposals have seen a massive drop in support ahead of the nationwide votes later this month.

RTS/Keystone SDA/sb

Full story here
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