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Thousands of farmers lose EU cash over fraud fears

Thousands of Alpine farmers are facing financial difficulties after the EU refused to pay subsidies to encourage them not to farm mountainside land after the discovery of widespread fraud, with farmers harvesting crops on fields that they had claimed were being left fallow.

The EU discovered during spot checks that many fields where subsidies were being paid to farmers not to harvest crops to encourage bio diversity were actually being farmed.

As a result they announced that they would no longer pay subsidies to any farms where the Agrarmarkt Austria Marketing (AMA) had not guaranteed that the claim was genuine.

But the problem was that until the request was made AMA had only ever checked 5% of the claims – and despite stepping up their activities only managed to visit a third of the land where claims were being made – meaning that many farmers received no money as the claim had not been authorised.

Tyrol MP Anton Steixner (ÖVP) said that there had been discrepencies that meant many farmers were now suffering, and he urged that money be made available to help them.

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