Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Thursday, 8 November 2001

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 543 No. 4

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  51.  Mr. Deenihan  Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   when area aid based headage payments will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27264/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The 2001 area aid application for the person named has been fully processed and payment due under the 2001 area-based compensatory allowance scheme will issue shortly.

  52.  Mr. Perry  Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to changes in the disadvantaged area compensatory allowance scheme 2001, a person (details supplied) will suffer financial loss; if he will reconsider this person's classification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27265/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  In 1997 a review of mountain-type grazing lands for sheep headage purposes in the more severely handicapped areas and the less severely handicapped areas was carried out by my Department. All land classified as mountain-type grazing was subsequently identified as such on the land parcel identification system. This designation as mountain-type grazing suited most farmers, especially those engaged in [1221] sheep production, allowing them to be paid headage grants on mountain type ewes. However, in designating the areas concerned on the land parcel identification system regard had to be had to certain natural boundaries such as rivers and roads and it was not possible to exclude certain farms where sheep production did not take place.

The new area-based compensatory allowance scheme agreed in July 2000 and approved by the European Commission in the context of the CAP rural development plan provides for area related payments as follows: more severely handicapped – lowland – £70 per hectare up to 45 hectares; less severely handicapped – lowland – £60 per hectare up to 45 hectares; mountain-type land – £45 per hectare up to 60 hectares.

The person named was paid £2,263.25 on 25 September 2001 in respect of 8.61 hectares of more severely handicapped land – lowland – at £70 per hectare and 36.90 hectares of mountain-type land at £45 per hectare. This compares with his average payment of £1,125.76 in the three years 1998 to 2000.

Following a thorough review of the area-based compensatory allowance scheme, proposals have now been submitted to the European Commission for increased payment rates for farmers with mountain-type land. The proposal involves making a payment of £80 per hectare on the first ten hectares of mountain type land with a payment of £70 per hectare on each remaining hectare, subject to an overall payment ceiling of 45 hectares.

  53.  Mr. Ellis  Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   when a REP scheme payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [27283/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Payment issued to the person named on 30 October 2001.

  54.  Mr. Ring  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive an area-based payment. [27296/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The 2001 area aid application for the person named has been fully processed and payment due under the 2001 area based compensatory allowance scheme will issue shortly.

  55.  Mr. Ring  Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive an area-based payment. [27297/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The 2001 area aid application for the person named has been fully processed and payment due under the 2001 area based compensatory allowance scheme will issue shortly.

[1222]

  56.  Mr. Finucane  Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   when a suckler cow premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [27323/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The 80% advance payment under the 2001 suckler cow premium scheme will issue to the person named within the next two weeks.

  57.  Mr. R. Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   the date grant payment under each scheme of direct grant for farmers falls due; the extent to which these grants are paid late; and the estimated interest cost imposed on farmers as a result of being paid late. [27394/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The protocol on direct payments to farmers, agreed with the farming organisations, sets out the application arrangements for the various direct payment schemes as well as payment target dates. Details are as follows:

It was agreed under the protocol that payments under the new area based compensatory allowances scheme would commence on 21 September 2001. Payments commenced on that date and are still ongoing as queries relating to area aid applications and minimum stocking density requirements become resolved.

The target date for commencement of payments as specified in the protocol is that payment of each instalment will commence within seven days of publication of the regulation setting out the rate of payment and all eligible applicants will be paid within two weeks. The position with regard to the ewe premium scheme 2001 is that the EU regulation setting the rate of payment for the first instalment of premium was published on 31 May. In normal circumstances payments would issue within the targets agreed in the protocol. However, due to the discrepancies which were highlighted during the cull of sheep in the Cooley Peninsula and because inspections could not have been carried out during the foot and mouth disease crisis, further enhanced controls agreed with the European Commission had to be applied before payments could commence. While a number of query cases were still unresolved payments commenced on 20 July and £20.7 million was paid on that date. The regulation setting the rate of the second instalment was published on 12 October and payment commenced on schedule on 19 October. On that day 93% of all applicants were paid some £10 million. Overall a total of £37.7 million has been paid under the 2001 ewe premium scheme to date.

It was agreed under the protocol that advance payments of 60% under special beef premium, suckler cow premium, slaughter premium and national envelope scheme would commence on 16 October of the year of application as provided [1223] for in EU rules. However, following my strong representations, the European Commission agreed to increase the rate of advance payments from 60% to 80%. When the increase was agreed it necessitated a new regulation to give effect to the higher rates and this regulation was published on 26 October 2001. Payments involving £144.5 million began to issue on that date. While the change involved a slight delay in the commencement of payments because payments could not commence until the regulation was published, the overall effect in terms of a significant increase in payments would have been beneficial to all farmers involved.

Payment of Arable Aid in eligible cases is to be made in the first payment run which will commence on 16 November, the earliest date allowed by EU regulations. In cases where there are still outstanding problems with the application payment will, as provided in EU rules, be made by 31 January provided that the applicant has responded to any queries from the area aid unit and provided that the response is sufficient to clear all outstanding difficulties. Payments under the 2001 scheme are scheduled to commence on target.

Apart from the delay in commencing payments of the first instalment under the 2001 ewe premium scheme for which I have given details already, all payments under other livestock schemes have commenced on target and within EU rules.

The vast majority, both of initial REPS applications and of applications for subsequent annual payments, are processed and paid in conformity with the target set out in the protocol. The target provides for processing valid applications within a period of 12 weeks where pre-payment inspection is not involved and 14 weeks where pre-payment inspection is required and the issue of payment within a further month.

The earliest date from which payment of the Early Retirement from Farming pension can commence is the date on which a valid application is received in my Department. The processing of applications under this scheme is completed in accordance with the targets set out in the protocol on direct payments to farmers. These provide for processing of valid applications within ten weeks where pre-payment inspection is not involved and within 12 weeks where pre-payment inspection is required and issue of payment within six weeks.

Grant Aid for the Development of the Organic Sector

The completion date for investment projects is specified in a grant approval letter issued from my Department. Applicants are usually given a period of 12 months from the date of the grant approval letter for completion unless a revised deadline has been agreed with my Department.

Payment of grant aid is made upon completion of the investment project and while approval has [1224] issued for grant assistance amounting to £36,880.97 under this scheme, no investment projects have been completed at this time.

Schemes of Investment Aid for Farm Waste Management, Dairy Hygiene Standards and Alternative Enterprises

My Department set a deadline under the protocol on direct payments to farmers for the issue of an approval for payment within three months following the receipt of notice of completion of works, and the issues of payment within a further six weeks.

Scheme Investment Aid for the improvement in Dairy Hygiene Standards

Payments under this scheme have been made within six weeks of receipt of approval for payment.

National Schemes for the Control of Farm Pollution and Dairy Hygiene

My Department set a deadline under the charter of rights for farmers for the payment of grants within two months from the receipt of notice of completion of works. Payment of grant aid under the scheme for the control of farm pollution had been awaiting approval from the EU to raise the expenditure limit. Following extensive negotiations between my Department and the Commission this limit has been raised allowing all outstanding payments to be made. Payments under the national scheme for the improvement in dairy hygiene standards have not been delayed in the same way as the expenditure ceiling has not been reached.

The processing of applications under all on-farm investment schemes was delayed arising out of the foot and mouth disease duties.

Installation Aid Scheme

In relation to this scheme which was introduced in the national development plan, my Department set a deadline for the processing of applications within ten weeks of receipt of valid application and the issue of payment following approval within a further six weeks. Applicants have been paid under this scheme within the time limits set down. Payments under the national scheme of installation have also been made within the time limit set out in the charter of rights for farmers.

Interest Cost

There is no provision for the payment of interest and my Department has no estimate of interest cost incurred by farmers.

  58.  Mr. R. Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development  Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh   the value of direct grants paid to farmers; and the cost of each scheme. [27395/01]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  The detailed information requested will take some time to compile. [1225] I will arrange for the material to be sent directly to the Deputy as soon as it comes to hand.


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