Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (179)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which all farm support payments already due have been paid up to date; the number, if any, outstanding for technical or other reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14439/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Single Payment Scheme - Payments under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme began issuing on target on 16 October. To date payments worth nearly €1.2 billion have issued to 122,659 applicants. An additional 631 applicants remain to be paid. All of those who have yet to be paid have been contacted by the Department in relation to various queries which must be resolved prior to payment being issued. Payments continue to issue on a weekly basis, as individual cases are confirmed eligible for payment.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

Payments under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme began issuing on target on 25 September. While there is no regulatory date by which DAS payments must commence, it is generally recognised and indeed acknowledged in the Farmers' Charter, that the third week in September of any given year is the earliest feasible payment date, given the volume and complexity of processing involved. To date, payments worth €199.1 million have issued to over 94,000 farmers.

Payments continue to issue on a weekly basis, with individual cases being paid the amount due as they are confirmed eligible. It should be appreciated, however, that many applicants, who declare land situated in a Disadvantaged Area are not eligible for payment under the Scheme either because they do not maintain any animals or 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.

Successive EU audits have made it clear that payments should not issue under Area Based schemes, including Single Farm and Disadvantaged Areas, until all queries associated with an application are resolved

Grassland Sheep Scheme

Payments commenced on 10 December 2013 and to date payments in excess of 12.5 million have issued to over 29,000 farmers.

Agri – Environment Schemes

Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS)

In relation to 2013 a total of 26,821 applicants have now received a total of €152.33m under their REPS 4 contracts. Of this amount 26,478 have received their full 100% payment. The remaining 343 participants will receive the balance of their payments this week.

A further 2,389 participants are still active in REPS. My officials are continuing to process the remaining files and are in contact with those still to be paid regarding any outstanding issues.

Agri – Environment Options Scheme (AEOS)

6,914 AEOS 1 participants have received €26.68m and 5,239 AEOS 2 participants have received €16.73m in respect of their 2013 payment. Of this amount 6,387 AEOS 1 and 4,847 AEOS 2 participants have received their full 100% payment. The remaining 527 AEOS 1 participants and 392 AEOS 2 participants will receive the balance of their payments shortly.

Files in respect of a further 767 AEOS 1 participants and 766 AEOS 2 participants remain under examination and officials within my Department are working through these to resolve any outstanding issues.

There are 5,963 active participants in the AEOS 3 Scheme. The checking process for this Scheme is well under way and I expect that payments for this Scheme will commence shortly.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS)

Grant payments under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) are also subject to eligibility checks including on-farm inspections in order to assess eligibility and payments are dependent on the completion of the project concerned and submission of a valid, documented claim. Over €31m of payments have already been made under the schemes, following verification of submitted payment claims. There is no undue delay between the date of receipt of the payment claim and its verification and the subsequent issue of payment.