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Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Area Scheme - Closing date extended to 15 May 2007

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, today announced that she has decided to extend the closing date for receipt of applications under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme to Tuesday, 15 May 2007.

The Minister explained that with farmers taking full advantage of the exceptionally good weather in recent weeks to progress their farm work, they have less time to deal with their scheme applications. "Therefore, I have decided that the closing date should be extended to Tuesday, 15 May 2007, the latest date for receipt of applications as provided for under the governing EU Regulations," Minister Coughlan said.

The Minister confirmed that despite the extension to the closing deadline, the processing of applications under the 2007 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Area Schemes worth over €1.6 billion annually to Irish farmers was already well under-way in her Department. However, she indicated that by extending the closing date she was ensuring that farmers could not be penalised for submitting a late application provided they submitted their application by the new deadline of 15 May 2007. The Minister also confirmed that she has already approached the Commissioner with a view to getting agreement to making payments with effect from 16 October, rather than 1 December, as provided for in the governing EU Regulations.

The Minister reminded farmers that, under the provisions of the governing EU Regulations, where Entitlements have not been utilised in 2005 and 2006, they will be surrendered to the National Reserve in 2007, if the holder of the Entitlements does not claim them under the 2007 Scheme.

"I have already ensured that each farmer concerned was written to by my Department, in order to ensure that everyone knows precisely the implications for their Entitlements, should they fail to lodge an application under the 2007 Single Payment Scheme," the Minister said.

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

"Farmers are already aware of this exciting development, following earlier correspondence from my Department," the Minister said. "The on-line 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," she added.

The Minister confirmed that, to date, many thousands of farmers had lodged their applications via the on-line system, some having registered individually with the Department's on-line service - Agfood.ie - and others, where farmers so chose, have had their applications lodged on-line by an approved Agent, with the benefits as outlined.

"I would urge all farmers to complete their application, ensuring to check all the information it contains, and return it to my Department without delay, either via the on-line facility, the postal service or hand delivery," the Minister concluded.

2 May 2007

NOTE FOR EDITORS

Under the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 796/2004, Single Payment Scheme Entitlements, which have not been utilised in 2005 and 2006, will be surrendered to the National Reserve in 2007, if the holder of the Entitlements does not claim 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. Unclaimed 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.

However, Entitlements have a range of unit values and this is a complicating factor in dealing with this issue. Equally, there are issues relating to leases, which may influence a given farmer to request payment of Entitlements in a particular order, other than highest unit value first.

Date Released: 02 May 2007