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Minister Coughlan Announces Allocation of €6m to Sheep Farmers from the 2007 Single Payment Scheme National Reserve

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced the commencement of allocations to successful applicants under the special measure for sheep farmers of the 2007 Single Payment Scheme National Reserve. The allocations will be worth over €6m annually or €42 million over the next 7 years.

The Minister said that she introduced this special measure for sheep farmers who derived at least 40% of their existing Single Payment from direct payments associated with sheep production (Ewe Premium/Rural World Premium) during the reference period. To qualify under the measure, the existing Single Payment must be less than €6,000. Allocations to individual farmers will be capped at the DED average value of entitlements or a total Single Payment of €6,000 whichever is the lesser. Successful applicants will receive an allocation up to a maximum of €1,000.

The Minister said that in order to ensure that the maximum number of eligible sheep farmers would benefit from this measure, her Department had sent application forms to all sheep farmers who, according to Department records, might qualify under the measure. This has resulted in the receipt of some 9,000 completed application forms.

Allocations to successful applicants will continue over the coming weeks and payments will follow shortly after allocations have been made. Applicants who are dissatisfied with the Department's decision on their application may appeal that decision to the Single Payment Independent Appeals Committee.

The Minister reminded successful applicants that where the top-up increases the value of existing entitlements by more than 20% then all of those entitlements are regarded as having come from the National Reserve and are bound by the 5 year usage rule. This means that if the entitlements are transferred, except by gift or inheritance during the five-year period following allocation, then the top-up portion of the entitlements will be returned immediately to the National Reserve. The entitlements may then be transferred at their original value, prior to allocation of top-up from the National Reserve.

The Minister said she is very glad that the sheep sector will benefit substantially from funding under this measure of the National Reserve.

Date Released: 22 January 2008