Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Patrick J. Morley

Question:

34 Mr. Morley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the studies, if any, carried out on land quality and farm income in those areas in County Monaghan which were not designated as severely handicapped. [1552/96]

The fourth review of disadvantaged areas completed in 1991 was based on a survey of 50 per cent of farmers in each townland which was, at that time, less severely handicapped or which had applied for inclusion in the disadvantaged areas.

In addition, each townland being examined was assessed by professional officers of my Department to ascertain its stock carrying potential. A rating of between 0 and 9 was accorded to each townland assessed. This is known as the land quality index.

When the disadvantaged areas appeals panel, an independent body set up by my predecessor, began its examination of appeals in respect of reclassification to more severely handicapped status, it operated under a set of guidelines provided by my Department and agreed with the farming organisations. These guidelines included the use of information which was available from the 1991 review in assessing areas for reclassification. It was felt that since this exercise was an appeal by farmers whose areas had been excluded in 1991, it would be appropriate to use the same data, suitably modulated in the selection process.

The areas in County Monaghan which were not reclassified as more severely handicapped were those whose income was greater than 60 per cent of national average income, and/or whose land quality was greater than 4, and/or which were not adjacent to the existing more severely handicapped boundary.