The decision to reduce the maximum payable area under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was made in Budget 2013, with the changes being published in the Scheme Terms and Conditions, at which time my decision to increase funding for the 2013 Scheme to €195 million was also taken. This increase in funding reflects my commitment to the protection of farming in disadvantages areas, most particularly the smaller farmers whose livelihoods are most dependent on this Scheme. I decided to focus on the protection of the smaller and most disadvantaged, including mountain sheep holdings, whose payments have remained unchanged. Making some minor technical changes, in addition to reducing the maximum area payable from 34 to 30 hectares, allowed me to increase the overall provision in 2013 compared to 2012.
However, this reduction in the maximum payable area is not applicable to farmers in mountain areas and, indeed, the changes introduced to the 2013 Scheme mean that almost two-thirds of farmers have had no change in their income resulting from this change.