Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Rural Environment Protection Scheme
Patrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
Question 583: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the average and maximum times being taken to process REP scheme payments for those cases inspected in 2011 by offices in Limerick, Clonmel, Tralee and Mallow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8320/12]
Simon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme, 2007-2013, and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the 75% payment can issue. The remaining 25% may only be paid when all the required on-the-spot inspections have been completed. REPS 4 applications take the form of an agri-environment plan which is prepared by a planner in consultation with the participant and which addresses many issues including nutrient management, grassland management and the environmental impact of the farming system. In order to minimise the possibility of EU disallowances, the administrative checking process and the on-the-spot inspections examine every aspect of the plans in detail.
In addition to the comprehensive administrative checking procedure which is carried out on all applications, each case selected for on-the-spot inspection is different. There is no maximum time prescribed for carrying out the administrative check or the on-the-spot inspection. The time taken will vary depending on a number of factors, including, location, the nature and complexity of the agri-environment plan, scale and weather conditions. In many cases, additional information and clarifications are required from the farmer after the farm visit. My Department makes every effort to ensure inspections are completed in a timely fashion to allow payments to issue to applicants at the earliest possible time. In this context, over 22,000 REPS 4 participants received payment in respect of 2011 before 31st December 2011, with the vast majority paid their 100%. All other cases are being paid as quickly as possible as issues arising are being resolved.