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Concern at Discriminatory National Reserve Allocations

18 April, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Michelle Gildernew MLA has voiced very serious concerns at the way in which the allocation of entitlements under the Single Farm Payment National Reserve Scheme are being distributed.

In a letter in reply to Ms Gildernew, the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pat Toal has said that claimants to the National Reserve under both Force Majeure and Exceptional Circumstances provisions cannot receive an adjustment to their entitlements from both claims. Pat Toal added that, 'the department will assess which is of greater value and notify the individual accordingly'. This is because a EU Commission Regulation prevents an allocation from both sets of provisions.

Ms Gildernew said:

"This Commission Regulation is discriminating against farmers who have valid claims under both sets of circumstances.

"I cannot understand why when the regulations regarding the Single Farm Payment were being drawn up that officials in the department did not raise this issue. Many farmers, particularly those caught up both in the cull during Foot and Mouth, and in the surrounding exclusions zones have valid claims along with many others, add to this farmers who have spent large sums of money on their farms who are entitled to assistance under the Investors measure.

"If a farmer was effected by Foot and Mouth Disease who proved entitlement to assistance under the National Reserve Force Majeure, then the same farmer who spent money for example on farm buildings and slurry provision, who again is entitled to assistance under the National Reserve, Investor, surely then that farmer is entitled to both amounts of entitlements.

"Given the thousands of farms that were culled during Foot and Mouth outbreak, how could it have gone unnoticed that this regulation would have a discriminatory impact. I will be seeking an answer to this question, along with having this issue raised in Europe by my colleague Bairbre de Brún MEP." ENDS

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