Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Paul Bradford

Question:

140 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if all farmers whose applications for inclusion in the disadvantaged area schemes have been rejected will receive a written explanation of the reason for the exclusion of their farms.

Paul Bradford

Question:

141 Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason he has not announced the formation of an appeals tribunal to re-examine the applications of those townlands which have failed to gain inclusion in the disadvantaged area schemes; and if he will give a commitment to put this appeals tribunal in place immediately, in view of the commitment made in the 1989 Joint Programme for Government.

Ivan Yates

Question:

143 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether there will be an appeals procedure to allow farmers residing in areas that have not been included in the submission for the extension of the disadvantaged areas; when a decision will be made in this regard; if he has satisfied himself that individual officers of his Department carrying out this survey applied the same criteria and scrutiny uniformly across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Frank Crowley

Question:

149 Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the appeal system which will be available for areas not included in the proposed extension of disadvantaged areas; if he will outline the areas not included in the proposed extension; and the reasons they have been excluded; as without this information landowners will be unable to submit the proper documentation.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

157 Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether he has now put in place a form of appeal in respect of those areas not approved under the extension and reclassification of disadvantaged areas; the exact procedure to be adopted for such appeals; the amount of land reserved for inclusion in the appeal mechanism; the time scale involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose taking Questions Nos. 140, 141, 143, 149 and 157 together.

Areas approved for inclusion in our disadvantaged areas will be published in advertisements in the local papers in the counties concerned after approval of those areas has been given and published by the EC. In this way, farmers whose areas have not been included will be made aware that these areas did not meet the five criteria for disignation of an area as disadvantaged, viz. (1) less than 7.8 per cent of the area is ploughed; (2) stocking rate is less than one adult bovine livestock unit per forage hectare; (3) the family farm income per male farm worker does not exceed 80 per cent of the national average; (4) there are not more than 27 people per square kilometre and (5) at least 30 per cent of the working population is engaged in agriculture.

I am satisfied that all areas were surveyed equitably and fairly on the basis of a very high random sample of farms. Every effort was made to ensure that the 50 per cent of farms surveyed in all areas were representative of the areas concerned. It is, of course, possible that, purely by mischance, in some small number of cases they were not.

Because of this possibility and in line with the commitment given in the Programme for Government, I have provided for an appeals system in my submission to the Commission. Until this is approved, however, it would not be possible to set up an effective appeals system or decide its terms of reference or procedure. Deputies can, however, rest assured that I will continue pressing for EC approval and will set up an appeals procedure as soon as possible after approval is obtained.