Dáil Éireann - Volume 643 - 11 December, 2007

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister [1106] for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason it is necessary for farmers to have all their payments paid directly into their bank accounts in view of the fact that many farmers do not want to avail of this option and some farmers particularly in isolated rural areas do not currently have a bank account; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33250/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers who currently receive payments from her Department; and the number of same who have already opted to receive their payments paid directly into their bank accounts. [33251/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the action she will take to allay the concerns of farmers who do not want to provide her Department with details of their personal bank accounts due to privacy or security concerns; the way this information is monitored and if access to this information is limited to the accounts section of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33252/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the options available to farmers who do not wish to receive their payments from her Department by direct credit to their bank account but wish to continue receiving their payments by way of a cheque in the post; if farmers have freedom of choice in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33253/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the EU requirements which dictate that all scheme payments to farmers must issue to a bank account; and if there is an opt-out clause available for farmers here who do not wish to avail of this facility. [33254/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the way the requirement for farmers to have all their payments paid directly into the bank accounts and her Department’s administration of this fit in with the Data Protection Act 1988; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33268/07]

Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason it is necessary for farmers to be paid under all schemes by direct credit to their bank accounts in view of the fact that many farmers are quite concerned about this proposal and some farmers do not have or want to have bank accounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33494/07]

  Deputy Mary Coughlan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 608 to 612; 614 and 630 together.

[1107] In 2006, a total of 139,338 farmers received payments under the various schemes administered by my Department. Over 66,000 farmers have supplied the necessary details to receive their payments through directly into their bank account and are already paid through the electronic funds transfer facility.

My Department is obliged to adhere to the requirements and controls set out by the EU Commission in administering EU funded schemes. The new requirement to pay all scheme payments directly into bank accounts is being implemented in accordance with EU Council Regulation 1290/2005 which lays down the rules on the financing and management of the Common Agricultural Policy for the years 2007 to 2013. The detailed implementing rules for that Regulation, as set out in EU Commission Regulation 885/2006, requires that all EU paying agencies, including my Department, adopt procedures to ensure that payments are made only to bank accounts. Payment by cheque (payable order) may continue to be made for the EU financial years 2007 and 2008. However, as and from the EU 2009 financial year commencing on 16th in October 2008, payments by cheque will no longer be permitted.

My Department will be in contact with farmers to facilitate the smooth transfer to electronic funds transfers. All bank account details supplied are handled to the highest levels of security and confidentiality and the switchover to electronic payments is being administered in compliance with the Data Protection Act.

Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has not received their single farm payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33260/07]

  Deputy Mary Coughlan: The person named submitted a late application for the 2006 Consolidation measure in January, 2007. This case has now been processed. The person named also submitted an application on 25 April 2007 to transfer entitlements to a Milk Production Partnership of which he is a member. It was not possible to process this application until the 2006 Consolidation application was fully processed. This application has now been fully processed and payment will issue shortly.

Question No. 614 answered with Question No. 608.