Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 14 June, 2005

Written Answers. - Direct Payment Schemes.

  530. Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the position regarding beef premiums (details supplied). [19224/05]

  Mary Coughlan:As the Deputy is aware, Ireland implemented the single payment scheme in January 2005. The special beef premium scheme and the slaughter premium scheme were the only schemes where the deadline for receipt of applications was 31 December 2004. This meant that as many farmers as possible submitted their applications in late December 2004 in order that they could benefit from the special beef premium. Under the 2004 scheme, applications for in excess of 2.4 million animals were lodged, of which almost 1.4 million were quota animals, that is, first age-bull animals. The application figure in each of the three previous years was 1.9 million animals.

I am fully aware of the impact that the overshoot reduction will have on farmers who claimed on more than 25 animals. The decision to opt for full decoupling was arrived at following careful consideration of all options and a widespread public consultation process. A persuasive factor in this process was the suggestion that farmers in those member states which fully decoupled would not be disadvantaged during the transitional period. The level of overshoot of the regional ceiling is attributable to the ending of the special beef premium scheme in 2004 and application patterns, both in terms of total numbers of animals applied upon and the timing of lodging of applications, strongly suggest this to be the case.

I am seeking a solution to this issue and will continue to do so with the European Commissioner. I have already raised the issue with the Commissioner on a number of occasions during various meetings. My Department also forwarded a detailed submission to the European Commission dealing with this matter on 25 April 2005 and a meeting between my officials and the various services of the Commission’s agriculture directorate general will take place later this week. The matter has also been discussed with the Commissioner’s cabinet and the most senior officials of the European Commission.

I continue to avail of every opportunity to press for appropriate measures to be put in place to alleviate the difficulties encountered by Irish beef farmers as a result of the ending of the special beef premium in 2004.