Coveney under fire as DAS left in limbo
Scheme is on hold after EU fails to approve proposed rule changes
The Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) remains on hold after Brussels officials said they were not satisfied with Minister Coveney's proposed changes to the scheme.
Officials in DG Agri have sent a lengthy 10-page letter outlining the issues they have with the Department's of Agriculture's proposed changes.
In particular, they are unhappy with the contentious doubling of the minimum required stocking rates to 0.3LU/ha and the exclusion of land located more than 80km from the farmer's holding.
The letter states that these changes could "have a negative impact on the continued use of agricultural land, which is one of the main objectives of the measure."
The Commission has now requested a full analysis of the potential impact of these new conditions.
It also wants this compared with the impact of alternative approaches, such as "proportionate cuts applied to all [DAS] measure payments."
This latest development means that a new DAS scheme is unlikely to be approved until later this year, at the earliest. Close to 100,000 farmers submitted their applications for the DAS before the scheme closed in mid-May. The average payment to Irish farmers under the scheme was around €2,400 a year.
The uncertainty over whether the scheme is workable in its current format has caused a backlash against Mr Coveney, especially in western counties, where farmers are most reliant on the DAS to supplement low incomes.