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Minister Coughlan secures special transitional arrangements for REPS 4 in 2008; no change for REPS 2 and REPS 3

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, has secured a change in European Commission rules so that over 3,000 REPS farmers can join REPS 4 when their existing contracts come to an end this year. Announcing the successful outcome of negotiations, Minister Coughlan also reiterated that there would be no change in payment rules for the 54,000 farmers still in REPS 2 and REPS 3.

"The concession on REPS 4 is a very significant one," Minister Coughlan said. "As things stood, the new Commission Regulations governing REPS 4 would have meant that most farmers with REPS contracts ending in 2008 would have had to wait until 2009 to join REPS 4 and would not have got any payment until early autumn of next year. However, we have secured a special transitional arrangement for 2008 so that these farmers will be in a position to start their REPS 4 contracts and get payment later this year."

The special transitional provisions are the outcome of intensive discussions on the interpretation of the Regulation between Department officials and their counterparts in the Commission over the past few weeks. These discussions also clarified other aspects of the new Commission Regulations governing the operation of REPS 4.

The Minister also outlined the new rules covering applications and payments for REPS 4. The main provisions are:

  • Farmers who are not currently in REPS must have their applications and farm plans submitted by 15 May 2008.
  • Farmers finishing REPS contracts during 2008 must have their REPS 4 applications submitted by 15 May 2008 but, under the special transitional arrangements, they can submit their farm plans after that date. From 2009, the 15 May deadline will apply to all applicants for REPS 4.
  • A farmer's contract in REPS 4 will start on the first day of the month after he or she submits a valid farm plan, if his or her previous REPS contract has expired.
  • Payments will relate to the part of the calendar year during which the farmer has been in his or her REPS 4 contract. For a farmer starting a new REPS 4 contract on 1 August 2008, for example, the payment later in the year will be for five months.
  • Payments will be released in two stages: 75% when all the administrative checks (including the Single Payment checks) are finalised, and the remaining 25% when the last of the REPS on-farm inspections has taken place.
  • In REPS 4, all farmers will have an anniversary date of 1 January. A farmer with a new contract starting on 1 October 2008, for example, will be asked to submit a contract for five years and three months and 1 January 2009 will then become his or her anniversary date.

Minister Coughlan said that she had asked her officials to arrange an immediate meeting with the farming organisations to explain the new rules. Meetings would also take place with REPS planners. Advertisements explaining the new rules would appear in the farming papers, and the Minister said her Department would be writing directly to each of the 3,124 farmers with REPS contracts ending during 2008, explaining the special arrangements that would apply to them.

Note for Editors

These are examples of how the new rules, including the transitional arrangements for 2008, will apply to farmers:

Farmers with REPS contracts ending in 2008

  • These farmers must submit the REPS application form (known as Form REPS 1) to the Department by 15 May 2008.
  • If their contracts end on or before 31 August 2008, they must submit a full REPS 4 farm plan by 31 July.
  • If their contract ends after 31 August and up to and including 30 November 2008, they must submit a full REPS 4 plan by 31 October.
  • New contracts for these farmers will start on the first day of the month after they submit a valid REPS 4 plan, if their previous REPS contract has expired.
  • The REPS 4 payment in 2008 will relate to the number of months in 2008 covered by the farmer's new contract.
  • Farmers with contracts ending on or before 31 August who send in new REPS farm plans by 31 July will (if their applications are valid) receive 75% of their payment when all administrative checks for REPS and the Single Payment Scheme are completed. In practice, this is likely to be in early autumn. Farmers with contracts ending after 31 August and up to and including 30 November will (if their applications are valid) receive 75% of their payment in December.
  • The remaining 25% payment to all farmers with contracts ending up to 30 November (if they have submitted valid REPS 4 applications by the deadlines set out above) will go out when the last of the year's REPS on-farm inspections has taken place. This means that these payments will be processed in December.

Farmers whose REPS contracts ended before 1 January 2008

These farmers must have their applications and their farm plans with the Department by 15 May 2008. Payments for valid applications will go out in two stages as described above.

Date Released: 26 March 2008