Dáil Éireann - Volume 412 - 13 November, 1991

Written Answers. - Beef Premium Scheme.

66. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of farmers are excluded from the benefit from the special beef premium scheme and the suckler cow scheme as a result of inaccurate applications and that they now stand accused of intentionally intending to defraud his Department and consequently will not alone be excluded from benefit this year but also next year; if he will consider granting discretion to the local veterinary offices with regard to identifying intentional fraudulent applications on the one hand and genuine but inaccurate applications on the other with a view to paying the latter; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): I am not aware of any serious or widespread problem relating to the inaccurate completion of application forms under the 1990 and 1991 suckler cow premium schemes. If Deputy Creed has specific cases he wishes to bring to my attention, however, I will be pleased to have them examined.

I know, however, that a large number of applications under the 1990 special beef premium scheme would have to be rejected but for the flexibile approach which the EC Commission adopted at my request for that year in the interpretation of the relevant regulations.

These concessions were granted in recognition of the possibility of confusion [1402] among applicants in that year, the first in which 100 per cent on-farm inspections were not carried out. The Commission was adamant, however, that the regulations had to be strictly adhered to by all applicants in 1991 and subsequent years.

Despite warnings to this effect which issued to all applicants with the 1991 application forms, some seem to have repeated the mistakes of 1990. It is too soon yet to say how widespread this problem is but I am having it kept under constant review.

Meantime, I asked the EC some time ago to review the rules of this scheme and I am continuing to press them on the matter. Unless, however, they respond positively to that request in time for any changes to affect the 1991 scheme, I will not be able to consider the flexible approach suggested by the Deputy.