I propose to take Questions Nos. 80, 90 and 112 together.
As part of the final agreement on the Health Check of the CAP which was adopted earlier this year, Member States may utilise unspent Single Farm Payment (CAP) funds to provide support to farmers for:
specific economic disadvantages affecting the dairy, beef and veal, sheep and goat and rice sectors,
types of farming which protect or enhance the environment,
improving the quality and promotion of agricultural products,
enhanced animal welfare standards,
the prevention of land abandonment, and
contributions for crop animal and plant insurance premiums as well as support for animal and plant diseases.
I was instrumental in securing this agreement and in addition I successfully negotiated for the use of the National Reserve element of these funds from 2009. In this regard I have already announced that the available monies for 2009, which amount to approximately €7millon, will be paid to hill sheep farmers as a once off payment in 2009 in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment. This payment will benefit approximately 14,000 hill sheep farmers.
From 2010 for a period of three years, Ireland will have access to additional funds of the order of €25 million annually from unspent CAP funds. My main priority in allocating these funds is to ensure that they are used in the most efficient and effective manner for the development of Irish agriculture.
Having consulted widely with all stakeholders I am considering all proposals received including those for the sheep sector and I will be making an announcement in relation to the use of these funds in the coming weeks.