Written Answers. - EU Grant Proposals.

Noel Treacy

Question:

638 Mr. N. Treacy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the proposals, if any, he has for areas (details supplied) in County Galway under the new European Union grant proposals; the date of commencement of this new system; the current state of the negotiations; the amount of money to be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16716/96]

A proposal for reclassification of areas to a new category of extremely disadvantaged will shortly be submitted to the EU Commission.

The criteria used for the selection of areas include the presence of a high proportion of extremely poor land which could be described as rough grazing land, and the presence of excessive climatic conditions such as higher levels of rainfall and windspeed than elsewhere.

The selection of the specific areas was facilitated by the use of satellite imagery, by which the boundaries of rough grazing land can be clearly defined.

The Commission will need time to examine the proposal before commencing the approval procedures, but I would expect that the areas will be announced in time for the 1997 headage schemes.

A sum of approximately £3 million will be available to fund increases in payments to farmers in the new areas for each year from 1997 to 1999, after which the total amount for compensatory allowances falls to be renegotiated.

I cannot comment on specific areas which may or may not be in the proposal in advance of approval by the Commission.