Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (513)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

513. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether the use of donkeys in calculations for stocking density for the disadvantaged area scheme is not encouraging active farming; if he will reconsider excluding horses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20965/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Eligibility under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme requirements that applicants, among other obligations, satisfy the minimum stocking density requirements. That means that holdings must (a) meet an average stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare for seven consecutive months and (b) maintain an annual average of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare calculated over the 12 months of the Scheme year. A variety of livestock are eligible for inclusion in the stocking density calculation, including cattle, sheep, horses, goats and deer, in addition to donkeys. Among changes introduced in 2012 to the Terms and Conditions governing the Scheme was the requirement that, where any equines were being included in the stocking calculation, the holdings in question were required to be appropriately registered with my Department as equine premises. However, with the advent of the new Rural Development Programme, due to be adopted later this year, the time may be opportune to examine a number of elements of the Scheme. Any such changes will come into effect from the following Scheme-year, 2015.