Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 11 December 2017

Ireland supports delay in implementation of new 'disadvantaged area' criteria

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Ireland has supported moves by Austria to delay the implementation of new rules which will set to which farmers are entitled to payment under the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme.

The scheme which replaced the Disadvantaged Area Payment was due to changed by 2018.

However, as part of the ongoing discussion on amendments to regulations at EU level, Austria raised the possibility of extending the deadline on an optional basis.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said this week that Ireland supported this proposal, with Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Slovakia.

He said refinements of the regulations have yet to be finalised, but he remains hopeful there will be an extension of the timeline.

“Whether it will be a one or two-year extension is not clear at this stage.

“I envisage there will be an appeals system which will involve consultation with and the provision of information for stakeholders, including farm organisations,” he said.

The designation of eligible areas under the scheme to date has been based on a range of socio-economic factors.

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The factors included particular stocking levels, family farm income levels, population density and the percentage of the total working population engaged in agriculture.

The purpose of the change is linked with a concern at European Union level that areas were not being designated as disadvantaged in a consistent manner across the various member states.

The biophysical criteria set out in the legislation to underpin the new system of designation are low temperature, dryness, excess soil moisture, limited soil drainage, unfavourable texture and stoniness, shallow rooting depth, poor chemical properties and steep slope.

The Department of Agriculture has commenced work on the project and relevant technical experts are working on sourcing and analysing the data for the new criteria.

Departmental officials have also been in contact with the joint research centre and the Directorate General for Agriculture, DG Agri, in the European Commission about technical issues arising.

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