Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has welcomed the announcement that the deadline for derogation under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) has been extended under massive pressure from the party.
However, Deputy Ó Cuív insisted that the whole derogation process should be totally scraped due to the terrible Irish weather conditions this summer.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “The appeals system to deal with the stocking rates on the DAS payments now has a deadline of Friday week (August 31st) and farmers are being urged to post their forms by Thursday week.
“I welcome the fact that Minister Coveney has bowed to pressure from Fianna Fáil and the farming lobby to extend the deadline. Farmers throughout the country, who have struggled with low stock levels, have received letters from the Department outlining that unless they are answered the DAS payments for 2012 may be lost. 10,000 letters were sent out and it is vital for farmers to return the forms seeking derogation by Friday week.
“After sustained pressure by Fianna Fáil to take into account the poor weather this summer and the plight of farmers, Minister Coveney finally found some sense and extended the deadline.
“Fianna Fáil has also called on the Minister to immediately scrap any changes to the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS). Farmers have already taken huge hits to their finances, they cannot afford to take any more cuts to their income.
“It is scandalous that retrospective constraints are being enforced in the worst weather for many years. It is clear that the Minister has little understanding of farming matters and he does not seem to be interested in same.
“The Minister should cancel this whole procedure and revert to the stocking levels of 2011, the extension of the deadline does not go far enough.
“Farmers can appeal the decision to the Department in some circumstances but the changes need to be scraped because of the awful weather farmers have had.
“Smaller farmers stand to lose as much as €3,000 under these plans and they will be prevented from purchasing stock, given the importance of the payment. Surely the Minister knows what a perilous position many farmers are in, a little respite with this payment could serve to keep a lot of these farmers in business.”