Written answers

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agriculture Schemes Payments

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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462. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the single farm payment and disadvantaged areas scheme payment for the past three years that issued to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the outstanding disadvantaged areas scheme payment and single farm payments due for the past three years to this person; the reason these grants have not been paid; the penalties imposed on this person for non-compliance for the past three years; the details of all outstanding documents sought by his Department before payment can be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14821/14]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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In order to comply with EU requirements, the application was one of a number which was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection in 2010. This inspection was initiated on the 15 December 2010. During the course of this inspection breaches were recorded in relation to four separate Statutory Management Requirements (SMR).

Breaches relating to Nitrates were recorded, specifically the inadequate collection of livestock manure, the stockpiling of manure on lands during the prohibited period and inadequate storage capacity for organic fertiliser. These breaches resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded under that SMR for 2010.

Breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were recorded, specifically in relation to tagging, passports and the requirement to notify the Department of the movement of animals. These breaches resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded under that SMR for 2010.

Breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were recorded, specifically in relation to tagging, and the failure to maintain a flock register. These breaches resulted in a 5% penalty being recorded under that SMR. However, as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection the previous year which had resulted in a 15% penalty the rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 45% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2010.

Breaches relating to the requirement to maintain land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) were recorded, specifically in relation the poaching of land and the failure to control the encroachment of invasive species. These resulted in a 1% penalty being recorded under that SMR for 2010.

Overall, these breaches resulted in a 49% penalty being recorded against the relevant Direct Payments to the person named for 2010. He was notified of this outcome on 4 February 2011 and of his right to seek a review of the decision. To date no such review has been requested.

As payments under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and Single Payment Scheme had already issued for 2010 the Department initiated a process to recoup these payments and a letter issued from the Accounts Department of the Single Payment Unit informing the person named of the overpayment and how it could be repaid. It also explained how, should the person named choose not to repay the amount directly, the debt and any associated interest would be deducted from any future payments due to him from the Department.

As part of the aforementioned inspection process the person named was also required to submit Nitrates records. A subsequent check revealed that he had failed to submit any records as requested despite a reminder letter issuing in November 2011. As a result of this breach the initial 3% Nitrates breach was increased to 20% resulting in a total cross compliance penalty of 66% for 2010 (up from the 49% notified to the person named on 4 February 2011). The person named was informed of this outcome on 3 September 2013 and of his right to seek a review. To date no such review has been requested.

Subsequently a further letter issued from the Accounts Department of the Single Payment Unit informing the person named of the increased overpayment and how it could be repaid. It also explained how should the person named choose not to repay the amount directly, the debt and any associated interest would be deducted from any future payments due to him from the Department.

In 2011, in order to comply with EU requirements, the application was one of a number which was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection. This inspection was initiated on 30 May 2011. At this inspection breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were recorded, specifically in relation to tagging, passports and the requirement to notify the Department of the movement of animals. These resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded however, as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection the previous year which had resulted in a 5% penalty the rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 15% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2011.

Breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were also recorded, specifically in relation to tagging and dispatch dockets. These resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded under that SMR. However, as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection the previous year which had resulted in a 45% penalty the rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 100% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2011.

The person named was informed of this outcome on 14 September 2011 and of his right to seek a review. The person named requested a review of this decision. Following a further examination of the case, a letter dated 11 September 2012 issued indicating that the original decision was upheld. This letter also outlined how the person named could appeal this outcome to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office within 3 months of the date of the latter. The Agriculture Appeals Office has no record of any appeal from the person named.

In 2012, in order to comply with EU requirements, the application was one of a number which was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection. This inspection was initiated on 12 December 2012. During the course of this inspection breaches were recorded in relation to 3 separate Statutory Management Requirements (SMR).

Breaches relating to Nitrates were recorded, specifically the inadequate collection of livestock manure and the stockpiling of manure on lands during the prohibited period. These resulted in a 1% penalty being recorded but as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection within the previous 3 years rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 3% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2012.

Breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were recorded, specifically in relation to the requirement to notify the Department of the movement of animals and the requirement to maintain a herd register. These resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded under that SMR but as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection within the previous 3 years which had resulted in a 15% penalty the rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 45% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2012.

Breaches relating to the Identification and Registration of Bovines were recorded, specifically in relation to tagging and dispatch dockets. This resulted in a 3% penalty being recorded under that SMR. However, as similar breaches had been recorded at an inspection within the previous 3 rules relating to repeated non-compliances were applied, as per the regulations governing the scheme, and a 100% penalty was recorded under that SMR for 2012.

Overall, these breaches resulted in a 100% penalty being recorded against the relevant Direct Payments to the person named for 2012. The person named was notified of this outcome on 14 May 2013 and of his right to seek a review of the decision. To date no such review has been requested.

As payments under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme and Single Payment Scheme had already issued for 2012 the Department initiated a process to recoup these payments and a letter issued from the Accounts Department of the Single Payment Unit informing the person named of the overpayment and how it could be repaid. It also explained that, should the person named choose not to repay the amount directly, the debt and any associated interest would be deducted from any future payments due to him from the Department.

In 2013, in order to comply with EU requirements, the application was one of a number which was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection. This inspection was initiated on 25 November 2013. A number of discrepancies have been recorded and officers from my Department will be in touch with the person named this week to detail any documentation that they require to finalise the inspection process.

In 2013, payments due under the Single Payment Scheme, Disadvantaged Area Scheme and Grassland Sheep Scheme were netted against existing overpayments. The total outstanding amount owed as of 31 March 2014 is €1,927.48. A letter detailing this position will issue in the coming weeks, the letter will also outline how the debt can be settled manually should the person named so choose.

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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463. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment will issue under the 2013 disadvantaged areas scheme and the single farm payment to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14824/14]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, eligible applicants' holdings were required to have satisfied minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units for a retention period of seven consecutive months, in addition to maintaining an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year. As the holding of the person named did not satisfy these minimum requirements, no payment is due to the person named under the 2013 Scheme.

The 2013 Single Payment Scheme was issued by my Department directly to the nominated bank account of the person named on 13th December 2013.

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