Written answers

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Department of Agriculture and Food

Common Agricultural Policy

9:00 pm

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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Question 75: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will make an announcement regarding the details of the allocation of National Reserve funds of €7 million and unused single payment funds of €29 million to the sheep sector in view of the fact that these funds became available in November 2008 from the CAP health check negotiations and following extensive consultations, he committed to announcing details of a new sheep payment for 2009, 2010 and future years by February 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11983/09]

Photo of Pat BreenPat Breen (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Question 81: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has decided the way unspent CAP funds will be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11896/09]

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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Question 93: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the way he will use unused funds from the National Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11866/09]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Question 94: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will use the opportunity provided by the unused single farm payment funds and modulation funds to provide direct support to dairy farmers in 2009 in view of the income situation facing these farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/09]

Photo of Margaret ConlonMargaret Conlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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Question 99: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the additional funds that will be available to him in 2010 in terms of unused EU funds and additional compulsory modulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11875/09]

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Minister, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 75, 81, 93, 94 and 99 together.

I announced yesterday that unused funds available in 2009 from the Single Farm Payment National Reserve would be paid to hill sheep farmers in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment. The amount in question is approximately €7million in 2009. These funds have become available as a result of a request by myself, supported by a number of my counterparts from other Member States, in the context of the Health Check negotiations, for the facility to use unspent funds from the national Single Farm Payment ceilings to fund measures targeted at specific sectors in need of assistance.

Under the Scheme I announced yesterday and based on the eligible area declared by farmers in 2008, approximately 14,000 hill sheep farmers will benefit from the new payment this year. On the basis of data available for 2008, I estimate that the level of aid will be of the order of €35 per hectare with a maximum payment of €525 per farmer. Payments will commence on 1 December 2009.

In introducing this payment my main objective was to address the difficulties and specific costs, including compliance costs, facing the sheep sector. In reaching my decision I was mindful of the need to ensure that it created no additional burden for farmers and was simple and low cost to administer.

This payment, for which I sought and secured the agreement of the Commission, is for 2009 alone. I will make a decision on the use of unspent CAP funds from 2010 onwards when further information is available on the detailed EU rules that will apply. The amount available is €25m approximately; the precise amount will be clarified when the detailed rules are revealed. I understand that the Commission will bring forward its proposals in this regard very shortly and they will be adopted in May/June of this year. As regards modulation monies the agreed rates of additional modulation will generate approximately €120 million in total over the four years from 2009 — 2012 in transfers from the Single Farm Payment to rural development. In line with the new Regulations the funds must be used for measures to address the so-called "new challenges" of climate change, water management, bio-energy and biodiversity, dairy restructuring and innovation.

The consultation process as to how these funds can best be used for the development of Irish agriculture has taken place. As I have said from the outset these additional funds will stay in Ireland and be passed back to Irish farmers under the Rural Development Programme. The precise measures are subject to approval by the European Commission and I am currently evaluating the submissions made by stakeholders with a view to submitting an amended Rural Development Programme to the Commission by the deadline of 30 June 2009.

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