Dáil Éireann - Volume 621 - 14 June, 2006
Written Answers. - Sugar Beet Industry.
Mr. Kehoe Mr. Kehoe
 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a final decision will be made on the best compensation package for the sugar beet industry; and her views on whether the growers deserve the largest share of the compensation. [23030/06]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
Mary Coughlan: The compensation package forms part of the agreement on reform of the EU sugar regime reached by the Council of Agricultural Ministers last November and subsequently adopted by Council Regulations on 20 February 2006. There are three elements to the compensation package.
The first element is the compensation to beet growers of up to 64% of the reduction in the minimum price for beet. This compensation, which will be incorporated in the existing Single Payment Scheme and will be payable from this year, is worth approximately €123m to Irish beet growers over the next seven years.
The second element is the restructuring aid covering the economic, social and environmental costs of restructuring of the sugar industry involving factory closure and renunciation of quota. In Ireland’s case, this would be worth up to €145m. This aid is subject to the submission by the processor of an aid application including a detailed restructuring plan for the industry following consultations with the beet growers. Where restructuring takes place in the first year of the new sugar regime, as in Ireland’s case, the application must be submitted by 31 July 2006.
The third element of the package is the diversification aid, worth almost €44m in Ireland’s case, which would be drawn down in the framework of a national restructuring programme.
With regard to the second element of the package, the Council Regulation provides that at least 10% of the restructuring aid shall be reserved for sugar beet growers and machinery contractors. That percentage may be increased by Member States after consultation of interested parties provided that an economically sound balance between the elements of the restructuring plan is ensured. In that context, my Department issued an open call for submissions last month with a closing date of 2 June. These submissions are subject to scrutiny by Indecon International Economic Consultants, who have been appointed by the Government to provide me with independent expert advice on matters relating to the implementation of the restructuring fund. A final decision on the percentage will be made in due course having regard to this advice and the recently-adopted Commission Regulation laying down detailed rules for the implementation of the restructuring aid. It is my intention that the restructuring aid will be implemented in a fair  and equitable manner and strictly in accordance with the relevant EU regulations.
Dáil Éireann 621 Written Answers. Sugar Beet Industry.