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de Brún welcomes proposal for additional money for Less Favourable Areas

31 March, 2009

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the proposal for an extra £6 million for the Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowances Scheme (LFACA).   The MEP also welcomed the resolution of the contaminated animal feed issue.   Ms de Brún was speaking from Brussels after the Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew confirmed that farmers in Less Favourable Areas (LFA) would be paid £3.3million as arrears in respect of the current and previous years as a result of the movement in exchange rates from when the rates were set in the Rural Development Programme.    Farmers do not need to apply for these arrears as they will be paid automatically.   Ms de Brún said:   “The announcement today will put extra money into the hands of every farmer in Less Favourable Areas immediately.   “This is a real boost for hill farmers and the specific challenges they face.   “I also think that the proposals for a fixed rate in 2009 will provide the level of certainty that is needed for those working in these difficult farming conditions.”   The proposal is to increase the rate for farmers in disadvantaged areas to whichever is the greater of the sterling equivalent of €25 or £22. For the 2009 claim year, that will result in a payment of £23.81 per hectare. To maintain the differential for severely disadvantaged areas, the proposal is for a fixed rate for 2009 and any subsequent claim years of £44 per hectare.   The effect of the Minister’s proposals for the 2009 claim year would be an overall increase in expenditure of £2.65million.   Commenting on the progress in resolving the contaminated animal feed issue Ms de Brún added:   “I welcome the agreement achieved to date, with all herd owners now agreeing to participate in the voluntary cull, and the rendering and disposal of the affected cattle with hardship payments expected to be issued in April.   “I also welcome confirmation of progress on providing financial assistance for the fishing industry during this current economic downturn.” CRÍOCH

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