Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (42)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

42. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers, broken down on a county basis, who were refused their 2012 disadvantaged area scheme payment to date because they did not reach the required 2012 or 2011 stocking density; if in view of the fodder crisishe intends to relax these rules in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21498/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payments under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced, on target, on 26 September 2012 which is much earlier than in the vast majority of Member States across the European Union. To date, payments worth in excess of €207 million have issued to 94,671 of the total of 102,072 who applied.

Many applicants, who declare land situated in a Disadvantaged Area, are found not to be 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.

The revised stocking-density provisions introduced in 2012 necessitated processing almost 10,000 cases under the derogation measure in order to give applicants access to a robust and fair appeal process. The small number of outstanding cases relate in the main to those for which additional substantiating material is awaited.

It will be seen, therefore, that all applicants, whose eligibility for payment under the 2012 DAS Scheme has been established, have been paid and payments continue to be made twice weekly as individual cases are confirmed eligible.

A tabular breakdown of the position by county will be provided directly to the Deputy.

Turning to the 2013 DAS Scheme, which, as already announced, is focused on the protection of the smaller and most disadvantaged, I would like to remind farmers that the deadline for receipt of applications is 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, despite the mitigating measures taken, a very difficult year to date for farmers in view particularly of the weather conditions. The terms and conditions of the 2013 DAS Scheme remain as previously announced. Farmers with fodder related stocking difficulties may avail of the force majeure provisions in the Scheme.