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Minister Smith announces detail of €1.5 Billion in Direct Payments to Farmers this Year

Ireland among First Countries to release Single Payment Funding

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith, TD, today announced details of the direct payments valued at €1.5 billion that will be made to farmers between now and the end of this year, under the 2010 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the 2010 Single Payment Scheme and Grassland Sheep Scheme. The Minister said that his "priority is to maximise the cash flow to farmers between now and Christmas".

While EU approval of Ireland's request for an advance of the Single Payment is awaited, the Minister expressed his confidence that a positive response will be received. Minister Smith said "I sought EU agreement to make an advance payment under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme and, I am pleased to say, this request was viewed favourably by the EU Commission and had now been referred to the relevant Management Committee for consideration and approval. Based on the strong case that I have presented and from contact I have had with the Commissioner, I anticipate a positive outcome at the next meeting of the Committee, on Tuesday next".

Following approval, it is intended that the advance payments of 50 per cent will commence issuing as and from Monday 18th October, with balancing payments commencing on the 1st of December.  The Minister said "this will make Ireland one of the first Member States to release Single Payment funding and is a huge achievement in an unusually complex payment year".

In relation to the 2010 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS), the Minister has exercised the option of making an advance payment of 75 per cent of DAS beginning on 22 September with the balancing 25 per cent payment commencing in early November.  Minister Smith said that he had taken this option because of the EU requirement to entirely process applications before payment can be made in full.  Mr Smith said that the approach being taken "will ensure the maximum number of farmers will get an advance payment, whereas a far fewer number of farmers could be paid in full if an alternative option were taken.  The rate of payment under DAS is unchanged from last year and I am confident that all applicants will receive their full entitlement when their maps and applications are fully processed".

Mr Smith said that payments under the new Grassland Sheep Scheme worth some €18m to sheep farmers would commence on the 8th of December.

The Minister said that his entire focus was to make the maximum permissible payments to farmers under each of the relevant Direct Payment Schemes. He was confident that almost €1.5 billion would be paid to Irish farmers before 31 December 2010. The schedule of payments is as follows:

-     22 September      -       75 per cent under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

-     18 October          -        50 per cent Advance SPS Payment

-      4 November       -        25 per cent balancing DAS payment

-      1 December       -        50 per cent balancing SPS payment.

-      8 December       -        Grassland Sheep Payment.

Pointing to the success of his Department's campaign earlier this year to bring the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) up-to-date by mapping ineligible features, the Minister said the response from farmers has been remarkable. However, the number of maps requiring re-digitisation has increased significantly over previous years and this has inevitably resulted in more complex processing of applications.

"I wish again to record my thanks to all farmers who responded so positively to the campaign to map ineligible areas", the Minister said. "It was anticipated that the vast majority of scheme applicants had been making sufficient allowance for these ineligible areas on their claims, however, as these areas were not recorded on my Department's LPIS mapping database, action was required as the risk of substantial EU disallowances is very real".

"I am also conscious that despite this being a good year for farming from a production and price perspective, the farming community has endured two difficult years in terms of farm income. The approach that I am taking on direct payments this year will result in the maximum release of funds to farmers at the earliest possible opportunity and will underpin their incomes in 2010. This high level of funding should remind the farming community of the importance of CAP money and the need to protect this source of funding in the forthcoming EU negotiations", concluded the Minister.

Date Released: 20 September 2010