Farm surveillance for subsidy checking: the case in Europe

Europe's farmers receive payments for maintaining basic standards on the environment, food safety, plant health and animal welfare. In this BBC article "spying on Europe’s farms with satellites and drones" Lawrence Peter discusses the use of UAVs in conjunction with satellite imagery to validate and verify farmers' subsidies without having to send inspectors in person. They are not used everywhere: Austria does not use them, on the grounds that the shadows cast by very mountainous terrain sometimes make satellite images inaccurate. And Scotland, unlike the rest of the UK, decided against satellites because of the difficulty of getting enough clear weather for flyovers.


  • Agriculture accounted for 42% of the EU's budget in 2011 - about three-quarters of that went on direct payments to farmers, totalling 44bn euros (£37bn; $58bn)
  • In each EU country, at least 5% of farms must be inspected every year - and many check more than 5%
  • Satellites carried out about 70% of all inspections in 2010
  • Growth of satellite monitoring has cut number of infringements
  • EU officials say fraud accounts for only a small fraction of the irregularities - in most cases farmers overclaim because of a miscalculation

The new CA district map challenged in court: maps matter

From KQED, reported this morning. The California Supreme Court today is hearing oral arguments in the case of Vandermost v. Bowen, a rather complicated case related to the redistricting lines that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission drew last year, and which the state Republican Party is none too happy about.

Because the supporters of this referendum (and a lawsuit challenging the maps as well) contend that the law now says the disputed state senate maps drawn by the independent commission cannot be used in 2012 if they're being challenged with a ballot referendum. They say the state Supreme Court would have to step in and draw their own maps.

The defendants in the case are the CA Secretary of State through the attorney general's office. Their case is that the court does not have to step in and draw new temporary maps for the state senate.

This is really a fight over who draws political districts in California: the independent citizens commission, or temporary districts drawn by the California Supreme Court, or possibly even use the old districts, which have existed for the last 10 years.