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Minister Coughlan announces details of the 2007 National Reserve

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, today announced details of the four main categories under which farmers will be able to apply for an allocation of Single Payment entitlements from the 2007 National Reserve.

2007 National Reserve

Minister Coughlan said that this year there is only one mandatory category as follows:

Category A

Farmers who inherited, leased or otherwise received free of charge, or for a nominal amount, from a farmer who retired or died before 16 May 2005, a holding that was leased out to a third party during the 2000-2002 reference period. (Category A on the application form).

The Minister said she also intended to include the following non-mandatory categories in the 2007 National Reserve:

Category B

Farmers who commenced farming after 31 December 2002 or who, while farming during 2002, did not receive any direct payments in respect of that scheme year. (Category B on the application form) The income and educational qualifications that applied in 2006 will again apply to this category.

The Minister said that new entrants to farming who are farming leased/rented land will also be able to apply for an allocation from the 2007 National Reserve under this category provided the leased/rented land was declared on the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Single Payment application.

Category C - Sheep Farmers

The Minister said that certain sheep farmers with commonage land and a relatively low stocking density were prevented from increasing ewe numbers during the reference period pending the publication of commonage framework plans. A special category was created for these farmers under the 2005 National Reserve under which some 500 hill sheep farmers benefit to the tune of €400,000 annually or €2.8m over the next seven years.

In addition, the Minister said she has decided to include a special category under the 2007 National Reserve for sheep farmers for whom at least 40% of their Single Payment was derived from direct payments associated with sheep production (Ewe Premium/Rural Word Premium) during the reference period and their existing Single Payment is less than €6,000 and where individual entitlements are less than the District Electoral Division (DED) average. Allocations will be capped at the DED average value of entitlements or a total Single Payment of €6,000 whichever is the lesser and allocations to successful applicants will not exceed €1,000. It is estimated that some 7,500 sheep farmers will receive over €6m annually under this National Reserve measure or €42m over the next seven years.

Category D - Off-Shore Island Farmers

The Minister said she also intends to use the National Reserve to allocate top-ups to farmers on off-shore islands whose existing Single Payment is less than €6,000 and where individual entitlements are less that the DED average. Allocations will be capped at the average value of entitlements in the DED or a total Single Payment of €6,000 whichever is the lesser and allocations to successful farmers will not exceed €1,000.

Application forms for the 2007 National Reserve are now available on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie,

from Department offices and from Teagasc offices.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is Friday, 8 June 2007.


NOTE TO EDITORS

Please see Minister Coughlan's announcement today in Press Release 92/07 launching Package for Sheep Farmers which also refers to the assistance available to sheep farmers under the National Reserve.

16 May 2007

Date Released: 16 May 2007