I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 49 together.
I thank the Deputies for raising this very significant issue. We have had the worst summer rainfall on record since 1962. Rainfall for most of the country was twice the average for the months of June, July and August. This has caused significant problems and pressures for farmers, even on the most fertile of farms. We have tried to respond as best we can. What I said to farmers was that I would not put a short-term compensation scheme in place and then have to take the money back off them at budget time, as it would not be sensible to do that on any grounds. Instead, we have tried to do what we can do within budget, including, for example, pushing back and giving early notice to farmers of the pushing back of the slurry spreading and chemical fertiliser deadlines in order to extend the grazing season by at least two weeks and allow farmers to take advantage of what was a period of dry weather. This is to try to ease pressures on indoor feeding which will clearly be a problem this winter.
In addition, I met on a bilateral basis the Commissioner to discuss the consequences of the wet summer and made a request to him for an advance payment of 50% of the single farm payment. It is true this has almost become the norm in recent years, but it still needs to be applied for, and Ireland was the first country to apply for it. I am trying to improve cash flow for farmers in the autumn as livestock farmers, in particular, will have to spend more money on feed. We are also ahead of schedule in getting out disadvantaged area payments. As I said, approximately €150 million will go out to farmers this week in disadvantaged area payments. Some of these payments will be made to farmers who are being given a derogation from the new criteria announced last year.
Again, I am conscious that farmers need money in their hands because of the poor summer and because of cash flow problems that some are experiencing at the moment. We are doing what we can and today, on top of that, we are announcing a new AEOS scheme which I hope will be welcomed by farmers across the board.