The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, today announced the commencement of payments to farmers under the 2011 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. “In total, these payments are worth in the region of €220 million and are payable to in excess of 100,000 farmers”, the Minister explained. “I am particularly pleased to say that this year’s payment is a full 100% payment, unlike last year, when an advance payment of 75% was made initially” the Minister added.

I expect that a very significant proportion of eligible farmers will receive their payments in the coming days, although it will in reality take at least one week to issue such a large volume of payments. However, there are a significant number who currently appear ineligible under the stocking provisions; these farmers can submit appropriate evidence to my Department’s Portlaoise Office, following which their payments will then be released” the Minister continued.

The Minister explained that, in recent weeks, having identified in the region of 10,000 applicants whose holdings have not yet reached the required minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare, the decision had been taken to write directly to each of these individuals, explaining that applications cannot be processed for payment where this requirement has not been met and suggesting that, where farmers were satisfied that the requirement has already been met, the appropriate proof be submitted to his Department for noting. Such proof comprises horse passports, sheep registers, etc. Many farmers have already taken heed of this advice, thereby allowing their cases to be processed to completion. “While my Department can confirm that the minimum stocking density requirement has been met for the bulk of applicants through Department records, many farmers will only be confirmed as reaching this minimum requirement through the annual sheep census, details of which will not become available before the New Year” the Minister said, adding “Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming exercise, but one which is entirely necessary in order to ensure that every applicant receives their full entitlement under the Scheme”.

Concluding, the Minister confirmed that payments under the Scheme would continue to issue, as individual cases continue to be cleared, adding “I can also confirm that arrangements are well advanced and on target to allow payment of the 50% Advance of the Single Payment, with effect from 16 October, following the Commissioner’s positive response to my request for this facility earlier this year”.