Question Time - Agriculture and Rural Development Monday 28 April 2014
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill answered questions about single farm payments, lack of diversity in public appointments and land waterlogging.
Single Farm Payments
Lord Morrow asked the Minister when people whose single farm payment is outstanding will recive their payment. The Ministed replied, "the Department has delivered a record payment performance for the 2013 scheme year, with 99% of claims finalised to date. More farmers received their single farm payment in December 2013 than ever before. The value of the payments made so far is £264·7 million and is a vital element of farm incomes. I am pleased to announce that the results of all remote sensing inspections have been processed. Payments have been issued to the businesses concerned. In fulfilment of my Department’s commitment to the industry, payments have been made to the inspected businesses two months earlier than last year and four months earlier than the year before that. Currently, there are 357 outstanding single farm payment claims from the 2013 scheme year. These claims are not yet finalised because of a variety of reasons including probate proceedings, bank account details not being provided by businesses and disputes between businesses concerning land. The resolution of the claims is being pursued on an ongoing basis, but, in the great majority of cases, delay is due to factors outside the Department’s control".
Watterlogging was another topic during question time to the Agriculture Minister. Mr Gardiner asked the minister for her assessment of the extent of the damage caused to argiculture land by watterlogging over the past 12 months. The Minister stated, "there has been no widespread damage to agriculture land as a result of waterlogging over the past 12 months".
Common Agriculture Policy, Single Farm Payments, The Beef Sector and Rural Communities: Building Rights were all raised during topical questions to the Minister.