Severe Weather Events Response

Questions (154)

Arthur Spring

Question:

154. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way the amount allocated to Kerry County Council for local authority projects approved for funding under the storm damage programme was calculated; the reason for the discrepancy between the amount allocated to County Kerry and other coastal counties in view of the length of the County Kerry coastline and the number of piers in the county. [14256/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that Kerry County Council applied for funding for 13 projects under my Department's Local Authority Storm Damage Programme and received offers of funding for all thirteen. Funding of €114,165 is being made available to the Council, which in accordance with the terms and conditions of the programme, is 90% of the total cost of the projects submitted.

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

Questions (155)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

155. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the outcome of a land verification check for a person under the single farm payment scheme ( details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14268/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that one of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. As the person named applied for a review of my Department’s decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position was necessary to resolve the matter. This verification visit has been conducted and the file is being processed. The applicant will be informed of the outcome of the visit as soon as possible.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Questions (156)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

156. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if payments have issued to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal under the single farm payment scheme and disadvantaged areas scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14269/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The processing of the application of the person named under 2013 Single Payment and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes was recently finalised. Payments under both schemes are due to issue shortly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Agriculture Scheme Administration

Questions (157)

Dara Calleary

Question:

157. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans for the sheep grassland scheme; the budgeted amount for the scheme; if he still proposes to merge the scheme payments with the single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14303/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In developing the shape of the new system of Direct Payments in Ireland, I have been very conscious of the needs of sheep farmers, in particular those who farm on hill and commonage land. In general, sheep farmers hold low value entitlements under the current Single Payment Scheme and will benefit significantly from the model of convergence that is to be applied in Ireland where those with a low Initial Unit Value will see the value of their entitlements increase over the period of the scheme.

The Grassland Sheep Scheme is based on Article 68 of the current EU Regulation 73/2009 which governs direct payments in the form of the Single Payment Scheme. As of the 1 January 2015 that Regulation is superseded by EU Regulation 1307/2013 and consequently there is no longer any legal basis for the continuation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme in its present form.

When determining the Initial Unit Value of a farmer’s entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015, Regulation 1307/2013 gives Member States the option to take into account any payment the farmer received in 2014 under Article 68 schemes such as the Grassland Sheep Scheme. This option is only available where the Member State is not applying voluntary coupled support to the sector concerned under the new CAP.

I have decided to apply this provision in Ireland as a means of safeguarding the value of the payments received under the Grassland Sheep Scheme for those farmers concerned. The Grassland Sheep Scheme is the only Article 68 scheme that is being incorporated into the calculation of entitlements under the new Basic Payment Scheme. If such incorporation does not take place the value of such payments would simply remain in the national fund and would be redistributed generally among all farmers who establish entitlements.

The incorporation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment into the calculation of a farmer’s Initial Unit Value in 2015 will obviously result in a higher entitlement value for the farmers concerned from the start of the Scheme rather than relying solely on the gradual process of convergence to increase the unit value over the five year period up to 2019. Our analysis confirms that as a result of this provision the group of farmers who receive the Grassland Sheep Scheme will have an immediate financial benefit in 2015 as part of their payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.

Over the past two years sheep numbers have stabilised and while the breeding flock declined slightly in 2013, a return to growth is expected in 2014. I was pleased to note that for the third consecutive year Irish sheep throughput grew, reaching 2.61 million head, a rise of 7%. These developments led to sheepmeat production rising by around 3% to stand just over 55,000 tonnes. The total value of Irish sheepmeat exports is estimated to have increased by over 4% in 2013 to reach €220 million.

Agriculture Scheme Administration

Questions (158)

Dara Calleary

Question:

158. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to the eligible land issue and the appeals mechanism, how often the appeals board has met to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14309/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the Terms and Conditions of the Direct Aid Schemes, which includes the Single Payment scheme, farmers are obliged to declare only eligible land when making their applications and are to exclude ineligible features such as roads, buildings, farmyards, dense scrub, etc. These claims are then recorded on the Department’s Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS). Given the importance of the LPIS database in underpinning direct aid payments worth in excess of €1.5 billion annually, my Department is obliged under EU Regulations to ensure its accuracy.

Following consultation with the EU Commission, as part of the normal Accounting process, my Department was requested to undertake a complete review of the LPIS database. This has resulted in the necessity to adjust parcels of a significant number of applicants, where it was established that some ineligible features had been included. In certain circumstances these adjustments are giving rise to penalties.

The LPIS Review process initiated by my Department consisted on a review of all of the eligible land parcels in the LPIS database, which was declared by farmers under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and other Direct Payment Schemes. In total, the Review covered in excess of 132,000 applicants and the land parcels declared by them as eligible for payment under one of more of the above-mentioned Schemes. A comprehensive review and appeals process has been implemented to ensure that the cases of individual farmers are fully scrutinised. In the first instance, a farmer, who finds himself or herself in this position, can seek a review of the original decision by Department officials. If they are not happy with the outcome of the review, they can submit an appeal to the Independent LPIS Appeals Committee , chaired by Mr. Pádraig Gibbons. To date, 90 cases have been forwarded to the Agriculture Appeals Committee on receipt of appeals from the applicants concerned. The committee has not as yet adjudicated on these appeals.

It is important to note that there are some positive outcomes of the current Review from a farmer’s point of view. In the first instance, I announced recently that the number of payment entitlements, which farmers will be granted under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015 will be based on the 2013 eligible land or in 2015 if it is lower. This means that farmers, who have ineligible land deducted in 2013 as part of this Review, will be protected under the new Regime as their entitlements will be based on the actual eligible land in 2013. In addition, it also means that farmers, who are contributing to the convergence process by having reductions applied to their entitlements, will not see part of the funds used to make payments on ineligible lands.

A deliberate decision was taken late last year not to delay payments to those farmers whose payments were due to be subject to reduction following the outcome of the Review; rather, the payments issued with the sums in question deducted, the farmers concerned being then advised of the reductions and the appeals process. This course of action was specifically designed to ensure that there was no undue delay in issuing payments, while also ensuring that farmers were aware of the appeals process.

TAMS Payments

Questions (159)

Dara Calleary

Question:

159. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update on the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme, TAMS, scheme to date; if he will outline on a county basis any payments that have been made under each of the eligible schemes-headings; his views on the operation of and the future of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14310/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) which were established on the basis of the old 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme are now closed for the receipt of applications. Over 10,000 grant applications were received from farmers under the various TAMS prior to the relevant closing date for each scheme. All eligible applications which were received by my Department by the closing dates concerned either have already received or will receive an approval to proceed with the investment works concerned.

Over €31 million has been paid out under the TAMS, to date, and I would expect that significant further expenditure will take place under the schemes as farmers complete the investment works for which they have received an approval. A breakdown of the expenditure, to date, under each TAMS measure on a county-by-county basis will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The consultation paper prepared by my Department in relation to the proposed measures for inclusion in Ireland’s Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020 includes a commitment to the introduction of further targeted investment schemes for the agricultural sector (TAMS II). I would hope to be able to include further details in relation to these measures in the Rural Development Programme itself when it is finalised in the near future.

Tax Code

Questions (160)

Dara Calleary

Question:

160. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress to deal with the CGT tax liability on farmers with leased-out entitlements, who are forced to sell their entitlement to get some value for them; the talks he has had with the Department of Finance on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14311/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Officials from my Department have had discussions with the Department for Finance regarding the tax implications of the transfer of leased-out entitlements. It has been confirmed that, in accordance with tax law, this will give rise to a tax liability. I have written to the Minister of Finance outlining the situation and asking him to consider whether there are any options in this regard.