The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Brendan Smith TD will pay unused funds from the Single Payment National Reserve to hill sheep farmers in 2009 in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment.
In reaching the decision, the Minister pointed out that he recognised the difficulties, and costs including compliance costs facing the sheep sector and was anxious to introduce a scheme immediately in order that Irish sheep farmers could benefit from these funds in 2009. Outlining the details of the measure, the Minister said that his objective was to ensure that it was simple and low cost to administer and created no additional administrative burden for farmers.
The Minister said that, subject to commission approval, payments would commence on 1 December 2009, the first date that payments can commence under the EU Regulations. He said that based on the estimated National Reserve funds of approximately €7 million and the eligible area declared by farmers in 2008, approximately 14,000 hill sheep farmers will benefit from the 2009 payment. Based on the data available for 2008, it is estimated that the level of aid will be €35 per hectare and a maximum payment per farmer of €525.