Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

DAS payments fall by €20m in last four years

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Farmers in the Disadvantaged Area scheme (DAS) received €20m less in payments last year compared to 2008.

Counties along the western seaboard bore the brunt of the huge drop in money flowing into marginal farming areas, with just six western counties accounting for more than half of the cuts.

Galway's 12,000 recipients took the single biggest hit with a drop of €2.7m. However, the 15,600 DAS farmers in Kerry and Donegal also saw payments cut back by nearly €3m over the four-year period.

The figures released by the Department of Agriculture show that Galway, Donegal, Kerry, Mayo, Cork and Clare collectively received almost €12m less in 2011.

In contrast, the six counties with the smallest decreases saw their payment fall by less than €1m during the same period. They were Dublin, Carlow, Kildare, Louth, Wexford and Leitrim.

DAS recipients are bracing themselves for further cuts in 2012, as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney attempts to cut spending on the scheme by €30m. However, the proposed changes have been delayed following a series of requests for clarification on contentious changes to minimum stocking rate requirements.

The percentage decreases in the amount of money that has flowed into each county over the last four years also varies.

While the total drop in funding for the DAS since 2008 is equivalent to €20m, or 8pc on a national basis, the fall in money per county varies from less than 5pc in counties Wexford, Monaghan and Leitrim, to more than 10pc in Donegal, Wicklow, Waterford and Dublin.

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On average, farmers saw their payments fall by €190 from €2,488/hd to €2,298/hd.

However, there was a large variation across the country with payments falling by €311/hd in Donegal compared to less than €70/hd in Monaghan and Leitrim.

Michael Moynihan, Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesperson, said the figures were proof marginal farming areas were suffering most from the cuts to the disadvantaged area scheme.

"What is worse is that the same areas are being lined up for further cuts with AEOS not being re-opened," said Cork-based Deputy Moynihan.

"There seems to be an attitude that western farmers don't really matter since it is farmers in the rest of the country that are going to drive on the Food Harvest targets," he added.

"The minister can't just forget about the rest of the farming community. If he does, it's at his own peril."

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