Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (25)

Brendan Smith

Question:

25. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers who applied under the disadvantaged areas payment scheme for 2012; the number who have received their payments; the number who have had their payments rejected; the number still under consideration broken down by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21481/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payments under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced, on target, on 26 September 2012 and, to date, payments worth in excess of €207 million have issued to 94,671 of the total of 102,072 who applied. I must emphasise that at this stage all applicants that were eligible for payment under the 2012 Scheme have received their payment under the Scheme. Therefore, it is clear that no undue delay currently exists in processing cases and payments continue to issue twice weekly, as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

Many applicants, who declare land situated in a Disadvantaged Areas are not eligible for payment under the Scheme. Many of these applicants do not maintain any animals and those that do maintain animals do not keep sufficient livestock to meet the minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per hectare. This is a normal feature of the Disadvantaged Area Scheme. For example, in excess of 2,100 applicants under the 2011 DAS Scheme were found to be non-compliant, as they had insufficient stocking density on their holdings. The figure for 2012 is over 5,000, which is accounted for by the more focused requirements for establishing the minimum stocking density introduced under the 2012 Scheme. In addition, there are in excess of 3,000 applicants who held no stock during 2012.

As is illustrated by these figures, the vast majority of applicants, who were eligible for payment under the 2012 DAS Scheme, have been paid. Bearing in mind the new provisions introduced in 2012 and the need to process almost 10,000 cases under the Derogation measure, I am satisfied with the efficiency of the payments. It should be borne in mind that payments commenced on 21 September 2012, which is much earlier that in the vast majority of Member States across the European Union.

Turning to the 2013 DAS Scheme, I would like to remind farmers that the deadline for receipt of applications in 15th May 2013. I would urge all farmers to submit their applications as quickly as possible. I would also urge them to use the on-line filing facility. This reduces the number of errors that an applicant can make and, therefore, reduces the risk of payments being delayed in what has been a very difficult year to date for farmers in view of the weather conditions.

A Table outlining the county breakdown in relation to payments will be provided directly to the Deputy.