Dáil Éireann - Volume 602 - 11 May, 2005

Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

  236. Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her proposals to meet the difficulty of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford and other persons regarding the early retirement scheme in farming, particularly in relation to the single payment scheme, force majeure and exceptional circumstances (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16003/05]

  Mary Coughlan: My Department has been aware, [590] from an early stage in the negotiations leading to the introduction of the single payment scheme, of the possible implications for retired farmers who had leased their holdings during the reference years 2000 to 2002. In so far as it has proved possible in the context of the EU regulations governing the single payment scheme, and following lengthy discussions with the European Commission, provision has been made under the rules of the single payment scheme to address some of the concerns of retired farmers.

The person named retired from farming in 1994 and was a participant in the scheme of early retirement from farming from May 1994 until September 2000 when he reached 70 years of age. As he had retired before the reference period, he is not in a position to claim entitlements under the single payment scheme. However, a concession agreed with the European Commission will allow family members who take over a holding that was leased to third parties during the reference period to have access to entitlements from the national reserve. This will benefit the family members of retired farmers who decide to take up farming.

The person named applied under the force majeure measure of the single payment scheme but as he did not apply for any direct payments during the reference period 2000-02, or during the alternative reference period of 1997-99, the provisions of the EU regulations in relation to force majeure do not apply to this case. He subsequently submitted an appeal to the independent single payments appeals committee and following a full examination of the circumstances outlined in the appeal, the single payments appeals committee made a recommendation that the original decision taken by my Department should be upheld. The person named has been notified of this decision.