Written Answers. - Application Forms.

Michael McDowell


32 Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the alterations, if any, he is considering making to the 1996 application form for set-aside and arable area aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1845/96]

I am anxious to ensure that the area aid application form is kept as simple as possible and my officials are working with this in mind. A draft form has already been prepared. I am arranging for this draft to be put to the farm organisations for their comments very shortly and, as soon as it is finalised after such consultation, I will arrange for a copy to be provided to the Deputy. In the meantime, however, I can tell him:

(a) that the declaration of sowing page of the 1995 application form is not issuing to arable aid applicants from 1996 on as completion of it is no longer required — only those applicants who fail to sow what they declare on their applications need notify the area aid unit of my Department of such failure on or before 15 May each year;
(b) that, following the introduction in Ireland of the land parcel identification system required by the relevant EU regulations, the 1996 area aid applications for arable aid will be pre-printed with the new land parcel unique identification numbers which replace the old numbers supplied by farmers on their 1995 or 1994 applications;
(c) that farmers will receive maps showing their land parcels, the areas of those parcels and their new identification numbers, records of their 1995 applications, or 1994 applications if they did not apply in 1995 and very useful helpsheets and terms and conditions to help them complete their 1996 area aid application forms accurately.
Under the relevant EU regulations we are obliged to put the new land parcel identification system in place in 1996 so as to provide every land parcel with a unique identification number as against the non-unique number attributed to each parcel by farmers in previous years area aid applications and to measure accurately the area of each such parcel. This involves a number of form changes by comparison with previous years. I expect, however, that the efforts of my Department to simplify as far as possible the 1996 area aid application forms in the fullest consultation with the relevant organisations will ensure that problems with 1996 applications are kept to the minimum.