Clarification on land eligibility rules welcome

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News that the Department of Agriculture is to provide clarification to farmers on land eligibility rules in advance of the introduction of the new Basic Payment Scheme was welcomed today by East Galway TD Paul Connaughton.
‘In recent weeks I have been contacted by many farmers who are in the dark about land eligibility rules for the new Basic Payment Scheme. I raised this issue with Minister Coveney, especially in the context of commonages in south Galway, which were a particular problem.
‘I understand that officials from the Department have liaised with EU Commission officials to establish a clear and workable set of requirements which can be easily understood by all stakeholders, including farmers, agricultural consultants, Department officials and EU auditors.
‘Land which is eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme must be in a state fit for grazing or cultivation. With this in mind the Department of Agriculture is publishing a Land Eligibility booklet, which will detail the characteristics of the land that will be deemed in a state fit for grazing or cultivation.
‘All farmers will receive a copy of this booklet in coming days and it will also be available on the Department’s website and will be emailed to all agricultural advisors and consultants.
‘A series of information meetings on land eligibility is also planned, starting this Thursday with a meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon. A helpline has also been established where farmers can have questions on land eligibility answered. The helpline number is (076) 1064425, I am glad that action is being taken on this issue as farmers need clarity well in advance of the May deadline for application for the Basic Payment Scheme.’