Mindful of ongoing difficulties, I have decided that a formal request should again be made to the EU Commission seeking agreement to pay an advance from 16 October of the 2013 Single Farm Payment which, being the first day of the new EU financial year is the earliest potential payment date and almost two months ahead of the standard timeline. It will be recalled that my successful approach to Commissioner Ciolos for agreement to making an advance payment of the 2012 Single Farm Payment was prompted by the very wet weather experienced throughout last summer.
My Department will continue to make every effort to ensure that payments under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commence as early as possible in September, while taking into account of the need to adhere to the requirement in the governing EU Regulation, which provides that all eligibility checks must be finalised before full payments can commence.
In light of the difficulties experienced by farmers in sourcing fodder supplies, I announced the allocation of €1 million to fund the Imported Fodder Transport Scheme, which is designed to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage (hay, silage, haylage) from outside the island of Ireland. In light of the continuing difficulties being experienced, I extended the duration of the scheme to Friday 24 May, a broadening of its scope to include maize silage and a doubling of the budget to €2 million. I am pleased to note that since the introduction of this Scheme significant quantities of fodder have been imported and are reaching those in most need.
Following the issue of approximately 1,500 AEOS payments valued at €1.6m over the last two weeks days, close to a further 600 AEOS payments valued at close to €1.5 million will issue this week. Both AEOS 1 and 2 payments will continue to issue in the weeks ahead as outstanding queries are resolved. This will bring the total paid out in respect of the 2012 application period to just over €40m.
To date approximately 29,200 of the remaining 30,200 REPS 4 participants have been paid a total of €167m in respect of the 2012 application period. An additional €1m will issue this week to a further 200 REPS 4 farmers.
I am, of course, keeping the situation under review in light of the ongoing situation.