€1.5bn direct payments to be paid to farmers before end of this year

DIRECT payments valued at €1.5 billion will be made to farmers between now and the end of this year, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith announced yesterday.

The payments will be made under the 2010 disadvantaged areas scheme, the 2010 single payment scheme, and the grassland sheep scheme.

Mr Smith said his priority was to maximise the cash flow to farmers between now and Christmas.

While European Union approval of Ireland’s request for an advance of the single payment is awaited, the minister said he was confident a positive response will be received.

He said this request was viewed favourably by the European Commission and had been referred to the relevant management committee for consideration and approval.

Following approval, he said it is intended that the advance payments of 50% will commence issuing as and from Monday October 18, with balancing payments commencing on December 1.

“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,” he said.

Mr Smith said he had also exercised the option of making an advance payment of 75% of 2010 disadvantaged areas payments beginning on September 22 with the balancing 25% payment commencing in early November.

He said he had taken this option because of the EU requirement to entirely process applications before payment can be made in full.

Mr Smith said the approach being taken will ensure the maximum number of farmers will get an advance payment. Fewer farmers could be paid in full if an alternative option were taken.

The rate of payment under the disadvantaged areas scheme is unchanged from last year and he said he was confident all applicants will receive their full entitlement when their maps and applications are fully processed.

Mr Smith said payments under the new grassland sheep scheme worth some €18 million to sheep farmers would commence on December 8. He said his entire focus was to make the maximum permissible payments to farmers under each of the relevant direct payment schemes.

Mr Smith said he was confident that almost €1.5 billion would be paid to farmers before December 31, 2010. He is 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,” he said.

The schedule of payments is as follows: September 22: Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (75%).

October 18: Advance Single Payment Scheme (50%).

November 4: Balancing Disadvantaged Payment (25%).

December 1: Balancing Single Payment Scheme (50%).

December 8: Grassland Sheep Payment.


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