DAS Fiasco Must be Tackled as a Matter of Urgency21st June 2012
I have called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D, to take immediate steps to resolve the confusion over the Disadvantaged Area Scheme for farmers for 2012. This agricultural payment is essentially in limbo after officials in the European Commission have declared that they are unhappy with the proposals and changes put forward by the Minister in relation to this scheme.
Minister Coveney had proposed to introduce significant changes to the operation and eligibility requirements for this scheme. One of the most contentious aspects of these changes was the doubling of the minimum stocking requirement and the exclusion of land located more than 80km from the farmer’s main holding. The Commission has now expressed serious concern that these changes will damage and adversely affect the continued use of agricultural land. They are now seeking a full review of the potential impact of these changes.
My concern in this case is for the farmers, totalling over 100,000, who have already submitted their applications for this scheme. Farmers had to apply for this scheme prior to the end of May and now it seems that the scheme itself will not even be finalised until nearer to years end. This scheme is particularly aimed at helping those is mountainous or other disadvantaged area and is a vital support for such farmers. It is an integral support in developing and ensuring the continuance of farming in these areas. Farmers rely on these payments and being left in limbo with no clear indication as to when the scheme will be finalised or payments will be made is grossly unfair and damaging. The Minister must take this issue seriously and take immediate steps to alleviate the concerns of the Commission. I have petitioned the Minister on this matter and will continue to put pressure on him and on the Government to ensure that this problem is resolved.