Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

83 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if he will ensure that correspondence furnished to his office on 14 February 2000 (details supplied) is dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10273/00]

I regret the delay in responding to the earlier correspondence. Under EU Regulations governing the quota regime, farmers holding suckler cow quotas greater than seven are required to use at least 90% of that quota every year, otherwise the part not used will be forfeited and returned to the national reserve. Farmers who are unable to use the quota themselves may lease out the quota as quota leased out is regarded as quota used. Normally quota may only be leased out for a maximum of three years but farmers who are participating in the early retirement scheme may lease out for a longer period.

The person named held a suckler cow quota of 20 premium rights but did not use or lease out any quota in 1999. She could have leased out her quota in 1999 irrespective of her application to join the early retirement scheme. However, having considered all the circumstances, I am pleased to say that she may retain her quota of 20 premium rights for the year 2000. She may therefore, sell her quota or she may lease it for the duration of her participation in the early retirement scheme.