Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Beef Premium Scheme.

Thursday, 24 March 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 440 No. 6

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  11.  Mr. Callely  Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   the number of farmers to whom letters have been sent requesting necessary information to allow payment to be made under the beef premium scheme.

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Detailed statistics are not maintained in respect of the number of farmers who have had to be written to under each individual scheme. It is my Department's experience, however, that incorrect and incomplete application forms, are leading to delays in payments [1426] under a number of schemes. In the case of the June 1993 special beef premium scheme, for example, a recent analysis showed that up to 40,000 applicants, almost 50 per cent of all applicants — had to be written to by my Department concerning problems with their applications.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  How many of those farmers live in Deputy Callely's constituency?

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  The people in the Deputy's constituency are “window box” farmers.

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Up to 20,000 reminder letters have issued and in some cases farmers have been written to as many as six times. The types of problems include failure to submit cattle identity cards, failure to supply date of birth and submission of incorrect or invalid tag numbers.

I appreciate that the schemes are highly complex. However, because of the amount of money involved — as much as £600 million when the CAP reforms are fully in place in 1995 — it is not unreasonable that the EU Commission lays down very specific conditions for the completion of forms and the meeting of other requirements. My objective is to keep administrative procedures as simple as possible within the constraints of the Commission regulations. My Department is continuously monitoring all aspects of the scheme with this in mind. Help sheets are available with all scheme application forms and in addition assistance is available to farmers by way of information seminars held throughout the country by the Department in conjunction with Teagasc and by way of the Teagasc CAP consultancy service.

I urge farmers to avail of that computerised service. It is available free of charge to farmers in the west of Ireland and small farmers and it is available at a cost of only £30 per annum to other farmers. Farmers can help in the speedier processing of applications by ensuring that all application forms are completed carefully and full.

[1427]Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  The Minister indicated in reply to other questions about the scheme that approximately £500 million had been paid out in respect of grants in 1984. I note it is expected that 50 per cent of applications will be returned due to incomplete information that 20,000 reminder letters have been issued and some farmers have been issued with up to six letters in respect of their applications. Will the Minister indicate the cost of administering the service? Will there be a cut-off date for receipt of the completed application forms considering applications have been resubmitted five to six times?

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  The office in Portlaoise should be closed and officials moved back to their local areas.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  I have good contact with farmers.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  The Deputy does not know when he will need them.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  They are dear to my heart.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Deputy Callely should desist as the time for questions is exhausted.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  An excellent service is provided for farmers.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Is Bull Island in the Deputy's Constituency?

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Yes, among other areas.

Mr. J. Walsh: Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  I do not have the information regarding additional administration costs of the scheme. Additional costs are involved in dealing with the applications which give rise to a great deal of frustration. Applicants and officials of the Department would like to see the matter simplified. I will be glad to deal with applications from any owners of quadrupeds in Deputy Callely's area of Dublin north.

[1428]Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  There are new herd numbers there.


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