EU insists Govt hasn't applied for DAS change
The EU Commission has confirmed that no application has been received from Ireland regarding changes to the qualification criteria or payment structure for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS) for 2012.
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has announced his intention to change the stocking rates and the minimum retention period for DAS in 2012. It has also been suggested that the requirement may be based on an applicant having met the revised conditions last year.
However, EU approval would be required for any changes to DAS. But in a written reply to the Farming Independent, a spokesperson for the EU Commission confirmed that Ireland had not lodged an official application to amend the scheme.
"The Commission services have not received from the Irish authorities any official proposal to amend the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 for Ireland as concerns the conditions for payments to farmers in areas with handicaps, other than mountain areas," the Commission stated.
"If such a proposal is officially submitted, the Commission services will analyse it carefully and assess whether it is duly justified and whether it complies with the Rural Development National Strategy Plan 2007-2013."
The proposed changes to the DAS were announced in the Budget last December and are aimed at securing savings of €30m. The proposed regime would require farmers to maintain a stocking density of 0.3LU/ha. Exemptions to this rule may be granted to farmers in agri-environment schemes, as well as those farming commonage and marginal land.
It has been claimed that the savings identified by the Department in the DAS may not actually benefit the public finances when losses in tax revenue are taken into account.
DAS payments are liable for deductions for both income tax and levies.