Dáil Éireann - Volume 430 - 04 May, 1993

Written Answers. - Area Aid Application Form.

205. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if his attention has been drawn to the widespread anxiety and concern throughout the farming community in the west of Ireland generated by the issuing of application form AA93 by his Department; and if, in order to avoid further turmoil and afford the farming community time to prepare for the new system, he will defer receipt of these forms for at least one year.

[284] Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): EC Regulations require producers submitting applications for arable aid and livestock premia to submit area aid applications this year and in future years. In the case of producers of arable crops the area aid application also serves as the actual application for arable aid. In the case of livestock producers the area aid application is a declaration of forage area and is to enable my Department to calculate stocking density under the livestock schemes and eligibility for extensification grants.

I accept that the area aid application form is a relatively complex document and may give rise to concern among farmers. Because of that I arranged for my Department to alert farmers in 1992 to the introduction of that application form and to the need to obtain relevant supporting documentation, especially maps. My Department also issued an eight page help sheet with the application forms in order to assist farmers in completing their applications. My Department has also liaised with Teagasc and the farming press to enable both to answer queries from intending applicants and, in the case of Teagasc, to offer assistance in completing the forms.

In view of the foregoing, I believe farmers will be able to meet this year's deadlines for submission of the applications. In the case of those applying for arable sector aid or of livestock farmers with land that had been ploughed at any time since 1 January 1987, the closing date is 5 pm on Friday, 14 May 1993. In the case of livestock producers with permanent pasture only, however, I managed to secure in the relevant EC Regulation an extension of the deadline so as to allow those applicants to submit their area aid applications with the first livestock applications submitted after 14 May 1993.

It is not possible to defer the submission of area aid applications beyond these dates — to do so would make it impossible for my Department to pay arable aid or any livestock premia in 1993 since both are dependent on the information [285] contained in the area aid applications.