Dáil Éireann - Volume 547 - 31 January, 2002

Written Answers. - Suckler Cow Quota.

  80. Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the projections for the amount of suckler herd quota which will be available in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the need and the mechanisms in place to ensure that the national reserve does not run dry. [2951/02]

  81. Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if all categories which apply for suckler herd quota should attain it; if it would be preferable to exclude certain categories from being eligible to apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2952/02]

  Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 81 together.

  Under EU regulation, Ireland's suckler cow quota is limited to 1,102,620 premium rights. Apart from about 200 premium rights, all of that quota is presently held by individual farmers. Quota becomes available for distribution when unused quota is returned to the national reserve and through a deduction from the sellers quota when quota is sold. The EU has directed that unused quota in 2002 and 2003 may not be redistributed through the national reserve until 2004. [1009] The only quota available for distribution from the 2003 national reserve will be quota that will accrue as a result of sales. This is estimated at 1,500 premium rights. It is estimated that 3,000 premium rights will be available for distribution from the 2004 national reserve.

  It is not possible to accurately predict how many farmers will not use their quotas in any one year, how much quota will revert to the national reserve as a result of sales or how many farmers will apply to the national reserve. In recent years, demand for suckler cow quota has far exceeded supply. There was only sufficient quota in the 2002 national reserve to allow allocations to be made to 338 of the 3,040 farmers who applied. The categories of farmers who may apply for an allocation of reserve quota are proposed each year by the quota review group, an advisory group which comprises representatives of the major farming organisations, IFA, ICMSA, Macra na Feirme, as well as representatives from Teagasc and my Department. In accepting the group's proposals, I am conscious of the need to give as many farmers as possible the opportunity of applying while, at the same time, I am aware that if the number of categories was too restrictive, the possibility of having unallocated quota in the reserve could arise and this clearly would not be desirable.