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Minister Smith reminds farmers of the coming deadline for the receipt of applications under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme and other Direct Payment Schemes

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today reminded farmers that the closing date for receipt of applications under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme is Monday, 17 May 2010. "It is vitally important for applicants to meet this deadline, which is the latest date allowed under EU rules" the Minister said.  Although there is a 25-day period after 17 May during which late applications may be submitted, applications received during this period will be subject to late penalties, at a cumulative rate of 1% per working day. Applications received after Friday, 11 June, will be subject to 100% penalty, as per governing EU Regulations. "It is clearly in the interest of all applicants to avoid such penalties and for that reason I strongly urge everyone concerned to ensure they get their applications in to my Department on time" the Minister added.

The Minister reminded those farmers who are availing of the services of an Agent for the completion and submission of their form to ensure that the form has actually been submitted. This is particularly relevant where Agent has been engaged to submit the form using iNet, the Department's on-line application facility. "Unfortunately, experience has shown that some farmers have made the mistake of believing that simply by engaging an Agent to do this work that the form has actually been submitted" the Minister said, adding "it is, of course, necessary to meet with the Agent to complete the form, thereby allowing it to be submitted" The Minister also advised those farmers who use iNet themselves not to make the mistake of saving a draft of the form and then failing to submit it. "It is essential to be very prudent in this regard" he said. Minister Smith said that ultimately it was the responsibility of individual farmers to ensure that their applications were submitted to the Department on time.

The Minister took the opportunity to again urge farmers to ensure that they check the maps, which had been posted to them in recent weeks. "It is critical that all applicants only apply on eligible land" the Minister explained "therefore, I would again ask that everyone concerned take the time to closely examine the maps of their farms which my Department have provided. Where any areas of ineligible ground are identified, these should be marked on the maps in red pen and returned with the completed 2010 application form, making sure that the appropriate amendments have been made to the claimed areas on the application form".

Minister Smith reminded farmers that by submitting an application by the deadline of 17 May, they can amend their application by submitting an Amendment Form by 31 May 2010. It is possible for farmers, for example, who have submitted their application forms to submit an Amendment Form, if following a close scrutiny of the maps of their land parcels, he or she wishes to exclude an ineligible feature or features.

The Minister pointed out that, as in previous years, the 2010 SPS application form also incorporates applications for a variety of other schemes. "For 2010 there are a further four schemes where participation requires submission of a 2010 SPS form" the Minister said. These are: the Grassland Sheep Scheme, the Dairy Efficiency Scheme, the Agri-Environment Options Scheme and the Burren (Farming for Conservation) Scheme.

In relation to the Grassland Sheep Scheme, the Minister said "I have deliberately kept the Scheme administratively simple, which will facilitate my Department making payments very shortly after the commencement date of 1 December 2010, which is the commencement date for making payments under this Scheme in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EU Regulations". The Minister noted that farmers will find participating in the Scheme relatively easy, with three requirements, namely to:

  • maintain ewes;
  • complete the Sheep Census return by the deadline set by the Department; and
  • submit the SPS application form by the closing date of 17th May 2010.

The ewe numbers eligible for inclusion in the 2010 Scheme will be based on the numbers as declared in the 2009 Sheep Census. Applicants must also submit an SPS application each year to be eligible for the Scheme. The rate payable per hectare will be based on the number of 2010 SPS eligible hectares declared or area deemed eligible for payment, whichever is the lower.

Turning to the Burren Scheme, this is a three-year agri-environmental programme aimed at supporting high environmental value farming in the Burren, continuing and mainstreaming the pilot scheme known as the Burren LIFE Project. "This Scheme is a voluntary one and is open to all farmers, who farm in the Burren region in north Clare and south Galway. €1 million will be spent each year for three years to support high environmental value farming in the Burren which is one of Ireland's outstanding landscapes and is known worldwide. This funding comes from unused Single Payment funds and will provide an important boost to the traditional farming methods employed in the unique karst landscape of the Burren" the Minister said.

The Minister referred to the experience gained over the past five years under the Burren LIFE Project, which featured a strong partnership amongst the stakeholders (the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Teagasc and the Burren Irish Farmers Association). Under that Project, a range of sustainable agricultural practices had been put in place on a number of farms in the Burren area. A detailed Research and Monitoring programme was put in place and provided confirmation that these practices have had a positive impact on the priority habitats on these farms. "The culmination of this research has been the development of a blueprint for sustainable agriculture in the Burren, which is the framework for the proposed new Scheme. It has become clear that "grazing by livestock" is the primary component for the conservation of the biodiversity and landscape of the Burren. This was the key to the original Burren LIFE Pilot Project and now the expanded Scheme" he said.

Concluding, the Minister said "the Single Payment Scheme and the range of other schemes provided for in the same application are hugely important contributions to Irish farming as well as to the national economy and the environment of our country.  The final application date of 17 May should be written bold in the minds of Irish farmers."

Date Released: 12 May 2010