Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (195)

Pat Breen

Question:

195. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 202 of 13 March 2014, when a rural environment protection scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15508/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in May 2008 and received payments for the first five years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. This process has now been completed for 2013 payments and the above named has now been confirmed for payment. The 75% and 25% payments will issue shortly.

On-farm Investment Schemes

Questions (196)

Brendan Smith

Question:

196. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the schemes that will be funded under the on-farm capital investment proposed for the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15509/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department published a consultation paper on the new Rural Development Programme in January 2014. This paper set out a number of priorities in the case of possible on-farm investment schemes under the new Programme, including further support to encourage investment in the dairy sector in view of the forthcoming abolition of milk quotas; an enhanced scheme of grant-aid for young farmers; investment in low-emission slurry-spreading equipment; improvements in certain pig and poultry facilities; bio-energy; and a new farm building measure to support the construction of animal housing and slurry storage.

My Department is currently examining the possibilities for developing new schemes under each of these broad headings, in the light of the comments received from the various stakeholders as part of the public consultation process.

Grassland Sheep Scheme Payments

Questions (197)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

197. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will fully compensate farmers for the cessation of the sheep grassland scheme; if he still intends to incorporate it into the single farm payment; the value of such incorporation to farmers who at present receive single farm payments of €100 per hectare for each year to 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15513/14]

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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 €220m.

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

Questions (198)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

198. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person who has no single farm payment entitlements but has been applying for the disadvantaged areas scheme for the past five years will automatically be allocated entitlements in 2015; the value of such allocated entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15519/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The so called Scottish derogation only allows for the allocation of entitlements to farmers who never held entitlements, either owned or leased, but who were actively farming in 2013. Such farmers must produce verifiable evidence that in 2013 they 'produced, reared or grew agricultural products' in the Beef, Sheep or arable sectors.

Participation in the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme in itself does not confer an automatic right to receive entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015. However, as that Scheme does require farmers' holdings to satisfy minimum stocking density requirements, it is a good indicator that a farmer was actively farming. Persons who qualify under the Scottish derogation will not carry forward any 'value' from the Single Payment Scheme and will therefore be allocated an Initial Unit Value of zero. Starting in 2015 the convergence process will increase this value upwards so that by 2019 the value of such entitlements will reach the minimum value of 60% of the national average entitlement value.

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

Questions (199)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

199. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if entitlements bought in 2014 by a person with no entitlements but who has been receiving the disadvantaged areas payment for the past five years will be of any value post 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15520/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The so called Scottish derogation only allows for the allocation of entitlements to farmers who never held entitlements, either owned or leased, but who were actively farming in 2013. Such farmers must produce verifiable evidence that in 2013 they 'produced, reared or grew agricultural products' in the Beef, Sheep or arable sectors.

The scheme year 2014 is the last year in which the Single Payment Scheme will be applied. All existing entitlements expire on the 31 December 2014 and sets of new entitlements will be allocated in 2015 to those who are eligible to participate in the new Basic Payment Scheme. To participate in the Basic Payment Scheme a person must be an 'active farmer' as defined in the Direct Payment Regulation.

Any farmer who received a direct payment in 2013 (Single Payment, Grassland Sheep Scheme, Burren Life Scheme, Beef Data Scheme) is automatically eligible to receive an allocation of entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015.

Ireland will also allocate entitlements to farmers who never held entitlements under the Single Payment Scheme, either owned or leased, but who were actively farming in 2013. Participation in the Disadvantaged Area Scheme is not, in itself, evidence of active farming, albeit that farmers benefitting under DAS are required to meet certain minimum stocking density requirements on their holdings. Applicants under the so called “Scottish Derogation” will have to show evidence that they produced, reared or grew agricultural products, including through harvesting, milking, breeding animals and keeping animals for farming purposes.

If a person who never held Single Payment entitlements but who was actively farming in 2013 bought Single Payment entitlements in 2014, he would disqualify himself from applying under the “Scottish Derogation” for Basic Payment Scheme entitlements in 2015.

Rural Development Programme Funding

Questions (200)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

200. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine who will be the contact agency and-or person for citizens seeking information regarding the EU's rural development fund. [15551/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020 will be co-funded from the National Exchequer and the EU's European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The Managing Authority for the EAFRD in Ireland is the Rural Development Division in my Department. The Head of Division in Rural Development Division is Mr. Fintan O'Brien. The Rural Development Division also maintains an email inbox for all queries related to rural development funding (ruraldevelopment@agriculture.gov.ie).

Rural Development Programme Funding

Questions (201)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

201. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will set out Ireland's allocation under the 2014-20 rural development fund. [15552/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020 (RDP) will be co-funded from the National Exchequer and the EU's European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The agreement reached on the Multiannual Financial Framework provides for a total allocation of EU funding of €2.19 billion (€313m per annum over 7 years) to Ireland for a new RDP. €2.037 billion of the EU funding is allocated to measures to be delivered via the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with the remainder allocated to LEADER funding which is administered by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The Government has shown its commitment to a strategic investment in Rural Ireland and the agri-food sector by providing matching National Exchequer funding at the rate of 46% to supplement the €2.037 billion EU allocation. In addition to this money, there is also an additional allocation from the current RDP 2007-2013 to be spent in 2014 and 2015. When taken in conjunction with the allocation of funding for LEADER measures, this represents a fund of over €4 billion for investment in rural development measures in the period to 2020.