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Minister Smith Confirms Payments of €1 Billion under the Disadvantaged Areas and Single Payment Schemes

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS) will commence this week. The Minister said that as these payments are worth in the region of €220 million and are payable to in excess of 100,000 farmers, this will be welcome news for farmers in the Disadvantaged Areas and to the rural economy as a whole.

In addition to the DAS payments, the Minister also confirmed that payments in the region of €800 million will begin issuing under the 2009 Single Payment Scheme on 16 October, a full six weeks earlier than provided for under the rules of the Scheme. Minister Smith described this initiative as "very welcome news for farmers. Following agreement in Brussels in June, which enabled Member States to pay an advance of the Single Farm Payment, I have decided to pay the advance payment to our farmers".

The Minister continued "As well as earlier payments, the level set for the amount of the advance payable is an unprecedented 70 per cent". Minister Smith said that he was grateful to the EU Commission for relaxing the timetable in this regard. "I am particularly pleased that the Commissioner reacted so positively to my request and to similar requests from some of my colleagues in other Member States that steps be taken to help address farmers' cash-flow difficulties in 2009".

The Minister confirmed that the 30 per cent balancing payments would begin issuing with effect from 1 December. "Mindful of the difficult financial situation, it is my intention to maximise payments to farmers before Christmas".

Minister Smith also took the opportunity to remind those applicants who had received correspondence from his Department to respond to any outstanding issues immediately. By far the most common error arising in applications is where the applicant overstates the eligible area of a land parcel. Where an applicant has received a letter in this context, or in respect of any other error, the application cannot be cleared for payment until the issue is resolved.

In relation to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme payments, the Minister noted that while a high proportion of applicants will receive their full payment entitlement under this scheme in the coming week, there are a number whose holdings have not yet reached the required minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock unit per forage hectare and said that his Department has written to these applicants. Where farmers were satisfied that the requirement has already been met, the Minister advised that the payment situation of these farmers would be reassessed where appropriate evidence of stocking density, say horse passports, sheep registers, commonage plans, etc. is submitted to his Department's Portlaoise Office.

Date Released: 21 September 2009