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Smith Gives Up-Date on REPS and Farm Waste Management Payments

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, announced today that payments under REPS 4 have commenced and that over €33 million has issued to farmers in the last week or so. These represent the first of the two phasing arrangements under which REPS 4 payments are made under EU regulations. The Regulations allow 75% of payments to be released once all detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, are completed.

"The processing of REPS 4 claims is an enormous and complex task," Minister Smith said. "In order to meet the requirements of the EU regulations, all applications received this year, as well as those received in 2007 and 2008, have to be subjected to detailed administrative checks before any payments could issue at all. This involved checks on some 28,800 files and I am glad that we have managed to reach the stage where payments are now being made in such large numbers. Payments will continue so that as many farmers as possible will receive their entitlements before year-end or early in the New Year."

The Minister also announced that the second phase of the REPS 4 payments for 2009, the 25%, has also commenced. This phase was triggered by the completion of the programme of on-farm inspections for the year.

The Minister emphasised that there were also some 34,000 farmers still in REPS 3 who had been paid or would receive payments this year.  "These payments have been going out continuously since January," he said, "and as of today we have already paid out €220 million this year. These payments, too, will continue to issue right up to the last day of the year".

Minister Smith said that REPS payments due to farmers in 2009 would reach the highest levels ever and this trend would continue next year. The Minister recently secured Dáil approval for a Supplementary Estimate for the allocation of an additional €39 million to REPS for 2009, bringing the total allocation for this year to an unprecedented €369 million.  "I am delighted that arrangements to spend this additional funding are well under way," he said, "and that the payments will provide a very welcome boost to many hard-pressed families at this difficult time." 

In the case of the Farm Waste Management Scheme, expenditure by the Department this year will reach €293 million which will bring total expenditure under the Scheme since its introduction in 2001 to over €900 million. The Minister said "The vast bulk of this expenditure will, of course, have occurred under the 'Nitrates' version of the Scheme introduced in March 2006 in order to assist farmers meet the additional requirements of the Nitrates Directive. The Scheme now represents the largest-ever investment in farm infrastructure in Ireland."

Of the €293 million spent this year, €244 million has already been paid out to farmers in respect of the first instalment of 40% of grant-aid due in 2009. Earlier this year, it was decided to pay the remaining grants under the Scheme on the basis of 40% in 2009 as claims are approved, with a further 40% in 2010 and the remaining 20% in 2011. The Minister confirmed that as a result of savings elsewhere in the Department's Vote and following the Dáil approval of a Supplementary Estimate, arrangements have now been made to issue payments of an additional €46 million this month to almost 3,500 farmers in respect of the second grant-aid instalment of 40%. The Minister said that second instalment payments to the remaining applicants will continue very early in the New Year.    

The Minister said that he was particularly pleased that payments under both of these schemes had been processed and brought forward before year end to contribute to farm family incomes and help cash-flow. The Minister said that when combined with payments under other schemes, including the Single Payment and Upland Sheep Schemes, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, Suckler Cow, Forestry Premia, the Farm Improvement and other On Farm Investment Schemes, the Early Retirement Scheme, the Installation Aid Scheme and the recently introduced Fodder Aid Scheme, total scheme payments by the Department this year to farmers would be approximately €2.4 billion. The Minister said that this level of payments was clear evidence of the Government's and his own commitment to supporting farm families and, as evidenced by the funding in the 2010 Budget, he said that he remains committed to ensuring that the highest possible level of support continues in 2010.

Date Released: 22 December 2009