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Suckler Cows Scheme

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what EU guidance his Department bases its policy for managing breaches of the 5 per cent. heifer rule under the Suckler Cow Scheme 2003. (106557)

The requirement to maintain a minimum of 5 per cent. heifers within a claim under the Suckler Cow Premium Scheme (SCPS) is contained within Council Regulation (EC) No. 1512/2001 which amends Council Regulation No. 1254/1999.

Article 1(6) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 1512/2001, which amends Council Regulation No. 1254/1999, sets out the minimum heifer percentage for scheme year 2003:

"However, for the years 2002 and 2003, the number of heifers to be kept shall be equal to at least 15 per cent. of the total number of animals for which the premium is requested.

In the United Kingdom, the obligation to keep a minimum number of heifers is not applicable in 2002 and is limited to 5 per cent. in 2003."

If a claimant fails to meet the minimum heifer percentage, then the number of animals on which premium can be paid is reduced. This is in accordance with Article 36 (1) of Commission Regulation (EC) 2419/2001, which states that

“Where an individual limit or individual ceiling is applicable, the number of animals shown in the aid applications shall be reduced to the limit or ceiling set for the farmer concerned.”

In order to ensure uniform implementation of Commission Regulation (EC) No 2419/2001, working document AGRI 49530/2002 and its accompanying Additional Information Notes (AIN) 1 to 6 were issued by Commission Services. AIN 6 describes how to manage cases where the foreseen split between cows and heifers is not respected.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on which date his Department first received guidance from (a) the European Commission and (b) other EU agencies on how to manage breaches of the 5 per cent. heifer rule under the Suckler Cow Scheme 2003. (106558)

Council Regulation (EC) No. 1512/2001, which set out the minimum heifer percentage for 2003, is dated 23 July 2001 and came into force on 1 January 2002.

Working document AGRI 49530/2002 and its accompanying additional information notes were distributed at the IACS experts group meeting held in Brussels on 2 May 2002. Commission services later issued a slightly amended revision; AGRI 49530/2002-Rev.1 is dated 21 November 2002.