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2007 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

- Closing Date 4 May 2007 -

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced that the closing date for receipt of applications under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme / Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is Friday, 4 May 2007.
"The online application has several benefits, from the built-in validations, which will result in fewer errors in applications being lodged, to the acknowledgement of receipt of the application by my Department, via an immediate return message". Minister Coughlan pointed out that, in deciding on the closing date, she was bearing in mind that, under EU Regulations, farmers could declare lands which they acquire up to 30 April 2007 in this years scheme and she was anxious therefore to give farmers every opportunity to acquire additional lands if this was necessary. In addition, Minister Coughlan pointed out that her Department was in consultation with the European Commission regarding the ineligibility of lands used for the production of potatoes and fruit and vegetables for claiming the Single Payment. It would, however, be some weeks before the outcome of these discussions would be known.

The Minister said she was also conscious that the entitlements of a number of farmers are set to change, as decisions are made regarding National Reserve allocations and trading and transfer applications. "I am anxious that farmers will have the most accurate, up-to-date information available to them, before the Scheme closing date, as this will ensure speedier processing, fewer errors and maximise payments from the earliest date" the Minister added.

The Minister also referred to her decision to introduce, on a pilot basis, an on-line application facility for the 2007 Scheme.

The Minister confirmed that, where farmers so choose, they can have their applications lodged online by an approved Agent, with the benefits as outlined. "I should point out that farmers are, of course, free to continue lodging applications in the normal way, either by post, or hand delivered to any Department office".

The Minister commented further on the details of this year's scheme. Under EU Regulations, where Single Payment Scheme Entitlements have not been "used" in 2005 and 2006, and where the holder of those Entitlements still does not "use" them in their entirety by the 2007 Scheme, they will be surrendered to the National Reserve. A farmer "uses" his or her entitlements by engaging in a farming activity and declaring for the purposes of the Single Payment Scheme one hectare of eligible land for each Single Payment entitlement held. The Minister added that farmers may wish to consult their own advisors in relation to the eligibility criteria of the schemes.

"In order to alert farmers to the fact that they could lose Entitlements in 2007, all farmers will be written to by my Department to ensure that everyone knows precisely the implications for their entitlements should they fail to lodge an application under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme or fail to declare sufficient eligible hectares".

Minister Coughlan stressed that the potential for losing entitlements will only arise for a relatively small number of farmers who have not declared sufficient hectares to date under the Single Payment Scheme.

For the first time, provision has been made under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme for farmers who hold entitlements of differing values to indicate the order in which they wish to have their entitlements paid. This facility will not be required by the vast majority of farmers who hold only one set of entitlements or by farmers who declare a number of eligible hectares equal to or in excess of their number of entitlements. In a relatively small number of cases, therefore, farmers who will not be in a position to declare an eligible hectare of land for each entitlement held in 2007, and who hold entitlements of differing values, may choose a specific order of payment to suit their circumstances. These farmers can apply to the Department specifying an order of payment of their choice on a "Payment Order of Entitlements" form. Minister Coughlan reiterated that only those farmers who are not in a position to declare sufficient hectares in 2007, and where the unused entitlements would be lost to the National Reserve, require this facility.

In this context, the Minister clarified that the normal payment order for farmers who hold more that one set of entitlements and who do not declare sufficient hectares is as follows;

Firstly: Set-aside entitlements, where applicable take priority over all other Single Payment entitlements.

Secondly: Entitlements that come in full from the National Reserve.

Thereafter: Standard entitlements or topped-up National Reserve entitlements commencing with the highest value entitlements.

Concluding, the Minister indicated that personalised Single Payment and Payment Order of Entitlements application forms, complete with pre-printed data concerning land parcels, 10-month start dates etc will shortly be issued by her Department to all Scheme participants.

"I would urge all farmers to complete their application, ensuring to check all the pre-printed information it contains, and return it to my Department without delay, either by the postal service or hand delivery, alternatively farmers may apply using the new on-line facility. I have again made arrangements for Lo-call Helplines in place to assist farmers with any queries they may have in relation to the 2007 Scheme. These numbers are contained in the Helpsheet which accompanies the 2007 application form".

21 February, 2007

Note for Editors

Under the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 795/2004, Single Payment Scheme Entitlements, which have not been used in 2005 and 2006, will be surrendered to the National Reserve in 2007, if the holder of the Entitlements does not use them in the 2007 Single Payment Scheme.

To benefit under the Single Payment Scheme, farmers are required to declare an eligible hectare in respect of each entitlement held. In addition, farmers had to apply to activate their Entitlements in 2005; by doing so, farmers then had the 2006 and 2007 Schemes in which to claim payment on their Entitlements i.e. by declaring eligible hectares. Un-used entitlements by the third year of the Scheme are required to be surrendered to the National Reserve.

There are two categories of persons involved:

  • Those who submitted an application in 2005 to activate their Entitlements, but did not declare eligible lands in 2005 or 2006;
  • Those who did not declare sufficient hectares to use all of their Entitlements in 2005 and 2006 and who will lose the un-used Entitlements in 2007, if they do not claim them.

Farmers who do not declare sufficient hectares are deemed to have been paid on different entitlements each year, within the same category, as follows: a farmer with 100 Entitlements, each of the same unit value, declaring 40 eligible hectares each year, including 2007, is deemed to have claimed Entitlements 1 - 40 in 2005, 41 - 80 in 2006 and in 2007 will be deemed to have claimed 81 - 100, together with 1 - 20. Therefore, while this farmer did not fully use all his entitlements in any of the three years (2005 to 2007), none of his entitlements will be surrendered to the National Reserve in 2007.

Date Released: 21 February 2007