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Earlier Payment Date for Balancing Payments under 2010 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today reaffirmed that "payments of almost €1.5 billion under the Single Payment Scheme, Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and the Grassland Sheep Scheme would be made before the end of the year."

In relation to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Minister confirmed that payments had commenced on 22 September and are continuing to be made, on an ongoing-basis, to those farmers, whose applications have been processed and all errors cleared.  Minister Smith pointed out that in excess of 67,000 farmers had submitted maps identifying areas to be excluded from their eligible land parcels, three times as many as had done so in 2009.

Minister Smith said that he wanted to assure farmers that "good progress had been made in processing applications and arrangements have now been put in place where farmers whose maps have been re-digitised since payments commenced can be paid the outstanding part of the 75 per cent advance payment. Furthermore, I have ensured that additional resources are being put in place to process applications and, as a result, the date for the balancing payments under the 2010 Scheme is now being brought forward to 20 October.  It has been my intention at all times to ensure that payments issue as quickly as possible, mindful of the necessity to ensure the necessary verification of eligibility conditions."

The Minister also confirmed that processing of applications under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme is at an advanced stage, with the 50 per cent advance payments, commencing from 18 October, to those applicants whose applications have been fully cleared, with the balancing payments being made from 1st December, as provided for in the Regulations. "Many thousands of farmers are already cleared for payment and my Department's main focus is ensuring that as many as possible of the outstanding cases are cleared between now and the commencement of payments in three weeks time. This is a very important payment and I argued strongly for the advance payment in recognition of the difficulties experienced by Irish farmers late last year and early this year.  We have one of the most efficient payment systems of any Member State and I am particularly pleased that we are in a position to make the 50 per cent advance payment to the vast majority of Irish farmers, as soon as we are legally permitted."

"I can assure farmers that payments will continue to issue under both schemes, after the initial payments occur, as individual cases are cleared" the Minister emphasised, adding "my aim continues to be to maximise payments to farmers at the earliest possible date, subject to the necessary requirements of the Schemes being met".

Responding to recent criticisms about letters sent by the Department to farmers, Minister Smith emphasised that the Department's main objective is to "process applications and clear errors as quickly as possible in order that as many applications as possible are ready for payment when the relevant dates under the various schemes commence."  The Minister stressed that many of the errors on the completed forms and queries raised can be dealt with by written reply, by telephone or on-line and he urged farmers to respond to the letters in order to speed up the processing of payments.

Date Released: 29 September 2010