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Minister Coughlan announces fast track transfer rules for REPS farmers

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, has announced measures to streamline the procedure for farmers who want to switch from REPS 2 to REPS 3. The new fast-tracking system will apply both to those farmers who are coming to the end of their five years in REPS 2, and to those who still have one or two years to go but would prefer to take on a new contract in REPS 3 before the end of the year.

"I am announcing these measures because I know there are farmers who want to get into REPS at the moment, but cannot get planners to draw up their applications," the Minister said.

"The current EU Regulations governing REPS will expire at the end of the year, so 1 December will be the last date on which farmers can start new five-year contracts. That means that we need to get new plans in no later than 30 September. The new arrangements for fast-tracking existing REPS 2 farmers into REPS 3 will free up planner time so that they can now start drawing up plans for new clients," she said.

Under the new arrangements, farmers in REPS 2 who will be coming up to a payment anniversary between now and 1 December will be able to switch over to a new contract in REPS 3 by signing an undertaking, countersigned by their REPS planner and indicating which of the REPS 3 biodiversity options they are taking on. They will then have up to March 2007 to send in a full farm plan for REPS 3. Farmers coming to the end of their REPS 2 contracts can (if they want to stay in REPS) choose whether to apply for REPS 3, in which case they will need a full plan, or else to have their REPS 2 contract extended for a further year.

Minister Coughlan said that she had asked her officials to make the new procedures as straightforward as possible. As a result, every REPS 2 farmer coming to an anniversary or the end of his or her contract will be told well in advance of the choices and will be sent the necessary forms.

The Minister pointed out that she had secured funding of €323 million for REPS this year (an increase of €40 million over the total spend in 2005), and she is confident that there are funds available to cater for all of those who want to join the Scheme this year. "There is no doubt that REPS 3 has been a major success. The Scheme is delivering real benefits not only to farmers but to the environment, biodiversity and water quality. It is in everyone's interest to facilitate those farmers who want to join REPS this year. I believe these new procedures will help to do that."

Date Released: 22 May 2006