Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson for Agriculture Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has hit out at the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney for his mishandling of proposed changes to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme. The Donegal Senator was responding to confirmation that the European Commission has rejected the manner in which the Minister proposed cuts of €30m to the scheme.
Senator Ó Domhnaill pointed out that the DAS affects some 100,000 farmers across the country, who are now left high and dry and unable to plan their financial future.
“The changes being proposed by Minister Coveney follow his Government’s budgest announcement that spending on the co-funded scheme would be cut by €30 million,” explained Senator Ó Domhnaill. The changes are subject to the approval of the EU Commission, however it is now clear that the Commission has serious concerns about the impact of Coveney’s cuts on Irish farmers.
“The average payment to Irish farmers under DAS was €2,400 last year. If these changes are implemented, thousands of farmers along the Western Seaboard would suffer huge cuts to their incomes. The fact that they qualified for DAS last year proves that their incomes are already low in comparison to other farmers and they need the support offered by DAS.
“Since January I have been in contact with the EU Commission outlining my outright opposition to the Minister’s proposed DAS cuts. I am now satisfied that the Commission have requested that the commission have requested a full analysis of the potential impact of these new conditions.
“The Government’s decision to double the required stocking rate to 0.3LU/HA on a retrospective nature, where stocking rates in 2011 automatically become qualifying criteria for the 2012, means that around 7,000 farmers in Donegal, Mayo, Clare, Galway and Kerry who were paid €16 million under the DAS in 2011 are ineligible to apply for the benefit this year.
“The DAS Scheme was established to support rural farmers who had lands categorised as disadvantaged. However Minister Coveney is moving away from this with his agenda to drive support towards larger farmers on much more productive lands predominantly in the east of the country.”
Posted: Jun 13, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized