20th August, 2012
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney TD, to extend the deadline for farmers to apply for a derogation under the amended Disadvantaged Area Scheme.
Changes to the 2012 DAS have recently been approved by the EU Commission, which include a retrospective requirement to have had a stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per hectare for three consecutive months in 2011 – an increase from the previous rate of 0.15 livestock units per hectare. Anyone who does not meet the new requirement can apply for a derogation – however the deadline for such applications is just days away, on August 24th.
There are a number of categories under which farmers who do not meet the new stocking density can apply for a derogation. These include:
• Participation in an agri-environmental scheme (such as AEOS or REPS),
• Participation in a National Parks and Wildlife Service farm plan scheme,
• Cases of exceptional circumstances or force majeure, or
• Where farming commenced after the 1st of January, 2010 and the farmer is deemed a ‘new entrant’ to farming
ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said, “We know that around 8,000 farmers do not meet this new requirement, but I understand many of them only received the letter informing them of this late last week. I am therefore calling on the Minister to extend the deadline to apply for a derogation beyond the current deadline. The Minister needs to give farmers a chance to digest the changes that have been made to the DAS and submit the required information to apply for a derogation where necessary.” Mr. Gilmartin added that he had misgivings about the retrospective nature of the changes. “Changing the rules after the event sets a bad precedent.”
Mr. Gilmartin concluded, “I would also add that I hope the changes being made to the scheme this year do not result in any delay in payments. With the winter we are facing, it is crucial that payments are made on time.”