I am fully aware of the impact of the very difficult weather conditions of recent weeks on farmers and of the potential impact on farm incomes. I have sought EU approval for the advance payment of the 2012 Single Payment Scheme. If approved, this will enable payment to issue immediately following 15 October and will represent early payment of substantial funding to farmers. The submission has already issued to the Commission and my aim is to obtain an early response.
I also fully appreciate the value and importance of the other scheme payments to farmers and I remain committed to ensuring that the maximum numbers are paid at the earliest possible date, mindful, of course, of the over-riding necessity to ensure compliance with the governing EU requirements. REPS payments in respect of 2011 are up to date and AEOS payments are well advanced and continue to issue as quickly as possible. My intention is to ensure that payments in respect of 2012 which are due later in the year are brought forward to the earliest possible date.
Insofar as farm inspections are concerned, the number of such inspections is prescribed in EU regulations. The Department's inspection staff are trained to ensure all scheme requirements and obligations are met by the applicants inspected and will take into consideration the difficult management conditions on the ground, provided the applicant is making every effort to keep damage liability to a minimum as a result of the continuous high rainfall over the last number of weeks. Finally, I am aware that Teagasc held clinics in all their local offices on Friday 6 July, for farmers seeking individual advice on addressing problems created by the current adverse weather conditions.