Dáil Éireann - Volume 621 - 14 June, 2006

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she will take to protect the entitlements of farmers in the ERS 2 where they are unable to lease out entitlements or where entitlements are activated but not drawn down for whatever reason. [23031/06]

  Mary Coughlan: My Department was aware, 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. In so far as it proved possible in the context of the EU Regulations governing the Single Payment Scheme, and following lengthy discussions with the European Commission, provision was made under the rules of the Single Payment Scheme to address some of the concerns of retired farmers.

It was open to participants in the current Early Retirement Scheme, who would have farmed during part or all of the reference period, to activate entitlements in 2005 and lease them to their existing transferee. If the transferee did not want the entitlements, the transferor (retired farmer) who has already activated the entitlements has until 2007 either to lease the entitlements or transfer them, with land, to another farmer.

Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 990 of 25 January 2006, if her attention has been drawn to correspondence (details supplied); if, in view of same, payments will issue to the person concerned and they will receive payment of all moneys due; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23060/06]

  Mary Coughlan: As I stated in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 990 of 25 January, 2006, a REPS 2 plan from the persons involved, received on 31 December 2001, was rejected as being ineligible and returned to them on 28 May 2002. In that letter they were given a further two months to submit an acceptable REPS 2 plan, but did not do so. In the circumstances, my Department had no option but to terminate their REPS 2 plan and seek a refund of the monies already paid. The persons involved were given the right to appeal this decision to the Agriculture Appeals Office, but did not exercise that right.

In light of the correspondence referred to, however, I have asked my officials to review the case and to revert to the persons involved as soon as possible.

[1305] Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for changes to a long-standing payment arrangement with a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if the original agreement will be honoured; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23061/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The person named has received considerable correspondence since December 2005 from my Department in relation to the special discounted buy out scheme introduced by me on 1st January 2006. This discounted scheme provides Land Purchase annuitants with the opportunity to buy out their annuities at a reduced price. The person named received circa 36.78 acres of agricultural land from the Land Commission but has consistently failed to make payments in respect of his land purchase annuity repayments and as a result he has accumulated substantial arrears. The person named made no repayments from May 1993 to January 1999, when he was advised in a letter dated 14 January 1999 that his subsidies would be set-off without further notice with a view to reducing the current level of his arrears if he did not make payments. Some IR£7,700 was set off from subsidies to be paid by the Department to the person named up to the end of 2001. Further set off was made for the period January 2002 to October 2005 and a figure of €8871.57 was recovered by way of set off. The person named was advised in January 2006 as to the capital repayment required to participate in the discounted buy out scheme. If the person named wishes to avail of this reduction he must pay in full the amount, capital and arrears, notified to him as the amount required to buy out his annuity under the terms of the Scheme. His current arrears stand at some €48,289.64. The capital discount available to the person named amounts to some €22,576.88. The full redemption payment due by the person named amounts to €116,020.18. The scheme is voluntary and will end on the 30th June 2006. My Department has no knowledge of the earlier agreement referred to in the details supplied.

Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of farmers entitled to participate in the land annuity capital discounted buy-out scheme; the number who have already applied to participate; the effort she intends making to ensure that the remainder are encouraged to apply before the scheme closes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23062/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The Land Annuity Capital Discounted Buy-out Scheme is open to all land purchase/reclamation annuitants. When the Scheme commenced on 1st January 2006 there [1306] were some 2150 annuitants. To date some 614 have elected to participate. On 9 June 2006 my Department issued a final reminder to each annuitant, the last in a series of 5 communications designed to inform, encourage and facilitate participation in the Scheme. My Department has also arranged for the publication of a number of information notices in the farming press, the next of which is due to appear this week.

Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the value of single farm payment entitlements available to a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; the drawdown under the 2005 scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23111/06]

  Mary Coughlan: The person named has 8.52 Single Payment entitlements with a value of €2,207.53. In order to be eligible for payment of entitlements under the Single Payment Scheme, the applicant must declare at least the same number of eligible hectares as his/her number of entitlements. The person named did not declare any land on his 2005 Single Payment Scheme application. Payment cannot, therefore, be made in respect of his entitlements.