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Minister Coughlan announces improvements in Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced improvements in the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which is one of the measures forming part of Ireland's Rural Development Programme approved by the EU Rural Development Committee on 24 July.

The Disadvantaged areas Scheme benefits over 100,000 farmers in the Less Favoured Areas and the Minister said "I am particularly pleased to announce that financing of the Scheme in the period 2007-2013 will amount to €1.8 billion approximately, which will allow me to provide an 8% across-the-board increase in grant rates up to the overall payment ceiling of 45 forage hectares."

The new rates of payment are:
More Severely Handicapped Lowland: €95.99 per forage hectare
Mountain Type Grazing: €109.71 per hectare on first 10 forage hectares or part thereof; €95.99 per hectare on the remaining forage hectares
Less Severely Handicapped Lowland: €82.27 per forage hectare

In addition, Minister Coughlan confirmed the extension of the aid paid under the Scheme to lands used for the production of energy crops, including miscanthus and willow subject to a maximum of 10 hectares. "I am happy to confirm that in addition to the incentives I announced earlier this year under the Bio-energy Scheme, farmers who participate in this Scheme can also benefit from the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme payment, by way of an adjusted rate of grant consisting of the appropriate DAS amount less the €45.00 EU Energy Premium" the Minister said.

The Minister confirmed that DAS applicants will continue to be required to meet the minimum forage area requirement of three hectares and also comply with the minimum stocking density requirement of 0.15 livestock units per hectare of forage lands declared. She also announced the following changes to the Scheme, which she feels will be of benefit to farmer applicants:

  • The retention period for complying with the minimum stocking density is reduced from 4 months to 3 months.
  • The 70-mile daily commuting distance rule is dropped - this provision is replaced by a condition that the applicant must satisfy the Department that he or she is actively farming the lands situated in the Disadvantaged Area.
  • The definition of forage area is expanded to include crops of forage maize.

In conclusion, the Minister said "I am pleased to be introducing these positive changes to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. I am convinced they will assist the more than 100,000 applicants living in the Less Favoured Areas and at the same time contribute in a practical way to the maintenance of the countryside and protection of the environment through continued agricultural land use and the maintenance of a viable rural society."

3 August, 2007

Date Released: 03 August 2007