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Coughlan Sets Out Position On REPS Application System From 2008: First-Timers Advised To Be Ready To Submit Plans Early

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., has urged farmers who want to join REPS for the first time in 2008 to have their plans prepared before the 2008 closing date for the Single Payment Scheme application. This is because a change in EU rules means that, from next year, applications for agri-environment payments like REPS must be made before the Single Payment application deadline. Minister Coughlan confirmed that farmers starting REPS 4 contracts this year are not affected by the new requirement.

"In practice the new rules from 2008 mean that if you are a first-time REPS applicant, you must submit a REPS 4 plan before the Single Payment application deadline if you are to receive your REPS payment in the calendar year. If your REPS 4 plan is received after the 2008 Single Payment application deadline, we can start your REPS contract the following month but we can't pay you until you have made a payment application in the following year," the Minister said."It will only affect you in your first year in REPS. The first payment will be backdated to the start of your contract, and your other payments will go out linked to your REPS anniversary as they have always done."

The Minister stressed that the great majority of farmers who are already in REPS will be unaffected by the change. The old system can continue to operate for farmers who remain in REPS 3. Farmers in REPS 3 who intend to switch over to REPS 4 will need to put in a payment application for REPS before the 2008 Single Payment application deadline, but their first REPS 4 payment will issue in the normal timeframe linked to the commencement date of their new contract.

"My officials argued at length against the Commission's proposal to change the rules as they did not best suit Ireland's all-year REPS application open period" Minister Coughlan said. "However," she continued, "I am determined to operate the new system in as simple and straightforward a way as possible, and my officials will be meeting the farming organisations shortly to discuss the practicalities for 2008."

24 October, 2007

Date Released: 24 October 2007