Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Jim Higgins

Ceist:

72 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in the payment of a farm development grant of £7,800 to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo for the erection of farm buildings.

This grant cannot be approved for payment until the applicant furnishes his farm accounts for the year ended 31 October 1991.

John Connor

Ceist:

73 Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if farmers in the areas recently declared more severely handicapped will receive their headage before Christmas where payments are sanctioned.

Liam Kavanagh

Ceist:

87 Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to (1) the extremely low incomes of farmers, particularly those in the dry stock sector and (2) the fact that the most effective way of helping these farmers is through the headage mechanism in disadvantaged areas by the immediate commencement of a headage rate increase and by simplifying administrative procedures for headage and premia schemes so that in future all payments can be made in the years to which the scheme refers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Liam Hyland

Ceist:

89 Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will take steps to ensure headage payments in 1991 are increased in line with the provisions of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress; if he will request his officials to urgently reinvestigate difficulties which have arisen for individual farmers when completing application forms for livestock schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter, with particular reference to the very serious financial difficulties facing farmers.

Colm M. Hilliard

Ceist:

90 Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when increases in headage payments will be announced and if, in future years, headage payments will be paid in full in the current year.

Some £176 million has been paid already this year in premia and headage grants on cattle, sheep, horses and goats. It is proposed to pay a further £88 million before Christmas to bring the total paid in 1991 up to about £254 million in all.

This £264 million will include some £80 million under the disadvantaged areas scheme which is in excess of the total paid in previous years and the proportion of payments to be made within the year is well up to normal. Pending consideration of when an increase in payment rates can be put into effect these grants are being paid at the present rates so as to allow payment in 1991 to as many farmers as possible in the disadvantaged areas — including those that were recently included in the list of disadvantaged areas reclassified as more severely handicapped.

I am examining possible changes in EC regulations and internal departmental procedures which will allow greater ease of administration and speed up payments in the future.