More than 11,000 landowners risk losing disadvantaged area payments, because their stocking density was less than 0.3 livestock units (LU) per forage hectare in 2011.
They will be written to by the Department of Agriculture and given the opportunity to apply for a derogation if, for example, their participation in agri-environmental measures resulted in stocking density less than 0.3 LUs.
Most of those with less than 0.3 LUs in 2011 were in counties Donegal (2,179); Mayo (1,996); Galway (1,556); and Kerry (1,254). In other Munster counties, they numbered 586 in Cork, 435 in Clare, 235 in Tipperary, 171 in Limerick, and 84 in Waterford.
Last year was a new reference year for disadvantaged area (DAS) payments. A 2011 stocking rate of 0.3 LU/hectare for three months is needed to be eligible for the 2012 DAS scheme — unless there are special circumstances which the applicant can use to explain why this stocking rate was not achieved. These may include stocking rate restrictions due to the requirement to comply with an environmental scheme.
A minimum stocking rate of 0.15LU/ha for a continuous six months in 2012, and an average stocking rate of 0.15LU for the full year, are required.
In addition, force majeure/exceptional circumstances will be allowed for and provision will be made for new entrants who commenced farming in their own right and at their own risk since January 1, 2010. EU approval is still awaited for these and other proposed rule changes.
However, landowners must go ahead with their Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme applications, which must be received by the Department of Agriculture by next Tuesday.
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