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Written Answers - Grant Payments

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 183.  Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  if he could outline the difference between a full-time farmer and a part-time, hobby farmer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7542/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The following definitions, for farms rather than farmers, are those used by Teagasc in its annual National [187]Farm Survey which details the composition of Irish farms in terms of numbers, size, demographics, financial data and work pattern, etc.:

Full-time farm:

A farm which requires at least 0.75 standard labour units to operate, as calculated on a standard man day basis.

Part-time farm:

A farm which requires less than 0.75 standard labour units to operate, as calculated on a standard man day basis. That is where a Standard Man Day (SMD) is eight hours of work supplied by a person over 18 years of age.

Hobby farms (or farmers) are not defined by Teagasc but could be broadly be taken to be agricultural pursuits undertaken for recreational rather than financial purposes.

 184.  Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the provisions that will be made for farmers with no entitlements for new schemes in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7280/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is understand that the Deputy is referring to the proposed changes to the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, specifically those farmers who are new claimants under the 2012 DAS scheme.

It is widely recognised that the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is a very important one for this country, as the total area designated as disadvantaged is almost 75% of Ireland’s total land area. From an economic perspective, the Scheme is particularly significant, contributing to the support of in excess of 100,000 Irish farm families, whose ability to farm is restricted by the physical environment and, in particular, the impact of the prevailing wet cold climatic conditions.

The budgeted expenditure under the 2012 Scheme will be reduced from €220 million to €190 million and, in order to achieve the €30 million saving in expenditure, it is proposed to introduce specified changes to the Scheme eligibility criteria for 2012. This will be achieved by making technical adjustments to the Scheme criteria to ensure that the aid payment is focused on farmers, whose farming enterprises are situated exclusively in Less Favoured Areas and who are making a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the Scheme.

I am, however, particularly mindful that any proposed changes in scheme qualifying criteria, regardless of how focused and targeted their aim, will result in anomalies, because of which I have already indicated that specific provision will be made for those farmers, as described by the Deputy, who may find that their stocking rates are less than now required. Specifically, I have directed that a formal procedure be put in place to cater for all who consider that their inability to meet the proposed revised scheme requirements is due to force majeure/exceptional circumstances. Those affected will be invited to outline such details to my Department, each case then being considered on its merits. Again with specific regard to the proposed stocking provisions, where individuals can show that their inability to meet the revised requirements are due to their participation in a recognised environmental programme, for example, the necessary allowance will be made. Consideration will also be given to new entrants to farming.

I would again stress that, in proposing the changes in question, the intention is to better focus the Scheme, which is to the benefit of the majority of those farming in areas with recognised constraints, while at the same time attempting to cater for those genuinely prevented from achieving the revised minimums.

[188]Deputies will be aware that the Scheme, which is co-funded by the EU, is an integral part of Ireland’s Rural Development Plan, 2007/2013, and as such, any proposed change to Scheme criteria requires the agreement of the EU Commission. In this regard, therefore, the changes announced in the context of the recent Budget have been submitted to Brussels; the Commission’s response is expected shortly.

 185.  Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive any payment entitlements from the national reserve for the years 2005 to 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7298/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No single payment entitlements were established for the person named as he did not submit applications under the Direct Payment schemes in the reference years 2000, 2001 and 2002. The person named submitted applications for entitlements under Category A of the 2005, 2006 and 2008 National Reserve and also Category C of the 2007 National Reserve. In order to have been eligible to apply to the National Reserve for an allocation of Payment Entitlements, applicants must have met the criteria applicable to one or more of the categories within the Reserve for the scheme year applied for.

Category A of the 2005, 2006 and 2008 National Reserve catered for farmers who inherited land or received land free of charge or for a nominal sum from a farmer who had retired or died by 16 May, 2005 and who had leased out his/her holding to a third party during the reference period 2000 to 2002.

The person named was not eligible for an allocation of entitlements from the 2005, 2006, and 2008 National Reserve as he inherited the land before the commencement of the reference period, i.e. before 1 January 2000. Therefore the land was not leased to a third party by the original owner during the reference period.

Category C of the 2007 National Reserve catered for farmers for whom at least 40% of their Single Payment was derived from direct payments associated with sheep production (Ewe Premium/Rural World Premium) during the reference period, their existing Single Payment was less than €10,000 and individual payment entitlements were less than the District Electoral Division (DED) average value. The maximum allocation under this category was €1,000.

The person named was not eligible for an allocation under the 2007 National Reserve as he did not already hold single payment entitlements for sheep production during the reference period.

 186.  Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  if a penalty imposed on a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reconsidered in view of the minor non-compliance issues involved in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7323/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 10 May 2011. This application was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection.

During the course of the inspection breaches were recorded relating to the Tagging of Sheep and the failure to maintain a flock register for the previous 5 years. This resulted in a 5% penalty being recorded against his direct payments for 2011. The person named was informed of this decision on 13 January 2012 and of his right to seek a review. He was also informed of [189]his right to appeal the outcome of a review to the Independent Agriculture Appeals office. To date, no such review request has been submitted. However, the Deputy’s question will now be taken as a request for review and same will now be initiated.

As payments under the 2011 Disadvantaged Area Scheme and Single Payment Scheme had already issued, my Department initiated a process to recoup these payments and a letter issued from the Accounts Department of the Single Payment Unit informing Mr. Hallissey of the overpayment and how it could be repaid. To date no repayment has been received.

 187.  Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  the position regarding an appeal relating to SFPS late submission of applications in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7328/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the Single Payment Scheme /Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 28 October 2011. As the application was received after the closing date for the scheme of 16 May 2011, it was therefore not eligible for consideration for processing. The person named was informed of this decision on the 15 November 2011 and of his right to seek a review. He has subsequently forwarded additional supporting documentation to my Department on 30 January 2012, which is currently under review. In the meantime, I have arranged for an official from my Department to make direct contact with the person named regarding the matter.

 188.  Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  when a 2011 disadvantaged area payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7339/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the Single Payment Scheme /Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 11 May 2011. This application was selected for a ground eligibility inspection. During the course of this inspection discrepancies were found that resulted in a claimed area of 589.94ha being reduced to 583.14ha. If the total area found is not sufficient to support the number of entitlements held penalties will be applied per the Terms and Conditions of the scheme. In this case the number of entitlements held by the person named is 593.0. As the difference between the area declared and the area found is more than 2ha, under EU Regulations, the difference between the area found and the area claimed is doubled and deducted from the area found. As a result the area put forward for payment under the Single Payment Scheme was 569.54ha.

The person named was informed of this decision by formal notice on 17 January 2012 and of his right to seek a review. He was also informed of his right to appeal the outcome of any such review to the Independent Agriculture Appeals Office. To date there is no record of such a request being made. Payment was made under the Single Payment Scheme on 12 January 2012 and payment under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme was made on 19 January 2012.

 189.  Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  when a decision will be made on a REP scheme review lodged by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7340/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named commenced REPS in June 2008 and received payment for the first two years of their contract. [190] REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulation which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments have been finalised.

Following an on farm inspection the person named was informed in writing on 7 December 2011 of the decision to terminate his participation in the above Scheme and to seek recoupment of all moneys paid due to the non-declaration of all lands in the possession of the person named in an Agri-environmental Plan received by my Department on 15 May 2008. In the letter dated 7 December 2011 the person named was also informed of the “right of appeal”. The person named has appealed this decision to the Regional Inspector and will be informed of the decision in writing as soon as possible.


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