Thursday, 15 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The person named submitted an area aid application which included land that was also claimed by another herd owner. My Department contacted both herd owners to clarify the matter. The person named has responded indicating that he has a right to claim the parcels in question, and has been given credit for them. His area aid application has been fully processed and the full area of 17.08 hectares is being accepted.
The animal-based headage schemes have been replaced in 2001 by the area-based compensatory allowance scheme. A condition of the new  scheme is that applicants must meet a minimum stocking level of 0.15 livestock units per hectare in the year preceding application. However, farmers who are unable to meet that minimum stocking density but who traditionally qualified for headage grants in respect of cattle and-or sheep may continue to qualify for payment, provided their land is being utilised and is not in danger of being undergrazed. The person named was not a headage recipient in 2000, and according to my Department's records, the stocking density of the holding does not meet the minimum requirement. My Department wrote to the person named on 7 November 2001 with a view to establishing the type of farming activity being pursued. A decision on entitlement to area-based compensatory allowance will be made on receipt of reply.
85. Mr. N. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the reason for the delay in having area aid payments made to farmers; if his attention has been drawn to the urgency in having these payments issued; and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the area aid payments had been made this time in 2000 and in previous years. [28403/01]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): In accordance with EU regulations, the earliest date for payments under the 2001 arable aid scheme is 16 November 2001. The payment date of 16 November was also in force in 2000 and no payments may be made before that date. There is no delay in making payments to farmers under the arable aid scheme and payment cheques as a result of the first possible payment run for 2001 will be received by farmers tomorrow, 16 November. The first payment run includes payments in excess of £94 million – 119 million – to 15,000 cereals farmers, representing 95% of those who applied under the 2001 arable scheme. This payment represents the highest ever made in the initial payment run and compares with an initial payment run of £83 million in 2000 and £70 million in 1999. Some 97% of arable aid applications have been cleared for payment and further payment runs are scheduled over the coming days to include these. The outstanding applications consist of cases in which staff in the area aid unit of my Department have been in contact with the applicant to resolve any remaining queries. Once queries are cleared, payments due will issue without delay.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): The sheep headage scheme and other disadvantaged areas compensatory allowance schemes were replaced in 2001 by an area-based compensatory allowance scheme and payment under this scheme issued to the per son named on 24 September last. The person named was also an applicant under the 2001 ewe premium scheme. His application has now been cleared and payment under this scheme will issue shortly.
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