Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Department of Agriculture and Food
Disadvantaged Areas Scheme
Question 251: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the decrease in farming income in 2009; if, as a consequence, he will give consideration to the reintroduction of the full disadvantaged area payments which applied prior to the budget cuts in December 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28634/10]
Against the background of the deterioration in public finances, my approach in preparing the 2009 Estimates for my Department was to protect expenditure for major developmental measures in the agri-food sector. To achieve this objective, savings had to be found in other areas and I decided, reluctantly, to reduce expenditure under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme for 2009 by reducing the maximum area limit to 34 hectares. While overall expenditure on the Scheme has fallen, almost 67,000 farmers have not suffered any reduction in their payments as a result of the introduction of the 34-hectare limit. The rates of payment, which were increased by 8% in 2007, remained unchanged for the 2009 Scheme.
Notwithstanding the reduction in funding, the total amount available under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme in 2009 was €220 million. This represented a substantial injection of funds to underpin incomes for farmers situated in these areas and the Scheme continues to be one of the best-funded Disadvantaged Areas Schemes in the European Union.
The rates of aid for the 2010 Scheme have already been set and are as follows:
Less Severely Handicapped Lowland and Coastal Areas with Specific Handicap: €82.27 per forage hectare;
More Severely Handicapped Lowland: €95.99 per forage hectare;
Mountain Type Grazing: €109.71 per forage hectare on first 10 hectares, or part thereof, and €95.99 per hectare on remaining forage hectares.
The application period for the 2011 Scheme will open in early 2011 and no decisions have not yet been taken at this stage on this Scheme.