Dáil Éireann - Volume 601 - 21 April, 2005
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
173. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food, further to Question No. 379 of 15 February 2005 and a recent notification to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath, if she will take steps to have the error corrected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12635/05]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: The person named, having been notified that the circumstances outlined by her did not satisfy the criteria for force majeure or exceptional circumstances under Article 40 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1782/2003, submitted an appeal to the independent single payment appeals committee. The findings of the appeals committee were that the original decision taken by my Department should be upheld.
However, my Department has now obtained additional information regarding the circumstances of this case and are satisfied that force majeure should be applied. As a result, the year 2000 will be excluded and the single farm payment entitlement will be based on the two year average of 2001 and 2002 only. The person named was notified of this decision on 19 April 2005. An updated statement of provisional entitlements reflecting this position also issued to the person named on 19 April 2005.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
174. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the way in which participants in the afforestation grant scheme will be treated under the entitlements system, for the purposes of the 2005 single payment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12636/05]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: To activate entitlements, farmers must submit a valid application under the single  payment scheme in 2005. Except in cases of force majeure or exceptional circumstances, where a valid application is not submitted, entitlements will be transferred to the national reserve.
Farmers who wish to plant their land and consolidate their entitlements this year must: apply for consolidation on their SFP form before 16 May 2005; have received their pre-planting approval from the Forest Service prior to 31 May 2005; and complete planting by 30 June 2005. This means that farmers can now take full advantage of the entire spring planting season and still consolidate their entitlements this year. All farmers who have received their pre-planting approval letters for new afforestation projects before 16 May should declare the appropriate parcels as “forestry” on their single payment scheme application form.
Farmers who expect to get approval after 16 May but before 31 May may also declare the parcels earmarked for planting as “forestry” on the SPS form. However, such farmers will need to monitor their application closely through their forestry company or consultant.
In the event that approval does not come through by 31 May or if planting will not be completed on the land by 30 June, farmers should submit a SPS amendment form, reclassifying the parcel/s already declared for forestry as “forage lands”, and withdraw their application to consolidate their entitlements in 2005. Ideally, this should be done prior to 31 May. Amendments may be submitted up to 10 June but would be subject to a penalty in respect of the parcel or parcels of 1% per working day effective from 1 June.
Farmers considering afforestation in either the current planting season or in the autumn should select the earliest possible start date for the commencement of the ten month land availability requirement — 1 September 2004 where possible — ensuring there is no overlap with previous declarations in respect of the 2004 direct payment schemes. The closer the start date is to 1 September 2004, the earlier the parcel becomes available for planting again. Should the pre-planting approval arrive after the 31 May 2005 deadline, planting can be postponed until the autumn planting season when the parcel is “free” again. Farmers in this situation can then apply to consolidate in 2006.
Farmers should make sure that at least 50% of their land remains unplanted, in order to leave sufficient entitlements to consolidate. Farmers may wish to consult with their Teagasc adviser or forestry company or consultant on this point. With regard to farmers who hold a joint management agreement or have applied for pre-planting approval with such an arrangement, it is the recipient of the single payment who is entitled to consolidate. Farmers in receipt of forestry premium who are not applying for payment under the single payment scheme do not need to com plete the SPS form in 2005. Their 2005 forestry premium will be processed in the usual manner.
Farmers should consider carefully the consequences of consolidation if there is a possibility that they might wish to avail of the early retirement scheme or might wish to retire from farming within the next five years. Consolidated entitlements are allocated from the national reserve and cannot be sold or leased for five years. These entitlements must also be claimed each year for five years, failing which the unclaimed entitlements will revert to the national reserve.
Dáil Éireann 601 Written Answers. Grant Payments.