Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 27 January, 1999

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

427. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive 1998 sheep headage. [1858/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): A query arose in relation to a plot of land that was also being claimed by another herdowner. Maps issued to the herdowners concerned and the query was resolved. The area aid application for the person named in now being finalised. Payment in respect of sheep headage will issue as soon as possible.

428. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive 1998 cattle headage, suckler cow premium and payment on two mares. [1859/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Application was made by the person named on 29 May 1998 under the suckler cow premium cattle headage and equine headage schemes 1998.

At initial validation under the cattle headage suckler cow scheme a number of errors were detected and the person named was written to requesting clarification of the matter on 13 July 1998. Reminders issued on 30 November 1998 and 14 January 1999 but to date no reply has been received from the person named. Payment under the cattle headage scheme 1998 cannot issue until the person named has responded to the query raised.

Errors regarding the suckler cow premium scheme have now been resolved and payment should issue shortly. His application under the equine headage scheme has been fully propossed and payment will shortly issue.

[332] 429. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive 1998 winter fodder losses compensation. [1860/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): To qualify under the 1998 winter fodder scheme a producer had to have a herd number in one of the designated DEDs and (a) have lodged a application under the 1998 suckler cow premium scheme and have a suckler cow quota, or (b) have mountain grazing on the 1997 area aid application and have an application submitted under the 1998 sheep headage scheme, or (c) have a permanent milk quota of 35,000 gallons or less on 1 April 1998.

Since the person named although having a herd number in a designated DED did not lodge any applications and did not have a milk quota she did not qualify for aid under the winter fodder package for 1998.

430. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive 1998 headage payments. [1861/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): A query arose in relation to a parcel of land that was also being claimed by another herdowner. Following an inspection of the land of the herdowners concerned, the query was resolved. The area aid application for the person named is now finalised. Payment in respect of cattle headage will issue as soon as possible.

431. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the amount of money overdue to farmers in County Mayo for headage and premia payments under 1998 area aid applications. [1862/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The payment position with regard to County Mayo is that to date, over 89,000 payments totalling over £39.5 million have issued to County Mayo farmers under the various 1998 headage and premium schemes. Since payments do no conclude at the end of the calendar year, it is not possible at this stage to provide a reasonable estimate of the amounts outstanding in any county. For example, under the suckler cow premium scheme and special beef premium scheme the EU regulations provide for advance payments in the year of application with balancing payments being made in the the following year.

Advance payments to applicants in respect of November and December 1998 applications under the special beef premium scheme cannot commence until the two month retention period expires, i.e. in February and March, respectively. Another consideration which must be taken into account when estimating expenditure is that Ireland has exceeded its national quota under the 1998 special beef premium scheme and it is not [333] possible to determine the rate of balancing payments until all applications received under the 1998 ten month scheme are examined and processed. Furthermore, payments to applicants under the October 1998 suckler cow premium scheme cannot commence until such time as the six month retention period expires in April 1999.

It should be noted that not all applications received will ultimately qualify for payment. Over 100 applicants under the May 1998 suckler cow premium scheme in County Mayo do not hold suckler cow quota and are therefore not entitled to payment. More than 200 cattle headage applicants and almost 180 suckler cow applicants in County Mayo are not yet cleared for payment at local office level. Under the 1998 special beef premium scheme, almost 600 January to October applications from County Mayo are under query. All of these farmers have been written to at least once. In other cases, payments have been withheld because of application of penalties or because there is a problem with the area aid application.

Every effort is being made to have outstanding queries resolved with a view to having all eligible applicants paid their entitlements without delay. The EU deadline for making payment under the 1998 schemes is 30 June 1999.

432. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the rationale behind basing the winter fodder losses payment scheme on a Teagasc survey report carried out in September 1998 in view of the fact that there was the least amount of rainfall of 1998 in that month; the plans, if any, he has to re-vamp this scheme in view of the current crisis; and, if so, if all applications will be dealt with on an individual basis rather than by district electoral divisions. [1863/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The Teagasc survey on which the 1998 fodder scheme was based identified those areas which had suffered the greatest losses during the continued bad weather in the summer and early autumn. Arising from discussions at the Government meeting earlier this week my Department and the Department of Finance have already entered into discussions to devise a suitably targeted scheme to assist farmers who are experiencing severe difficulty due to scarcity of fodder. The matter is being pursued with urgency.