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O'Neill Announces Conacre Agreement Plans for Dual Use Claims

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill today announced plans to introduce an enhanced control framework to manage dual use claims. Dual use is the terminology applied where one individual - typically a landowner - claims Single Farm Payment (SFP) in respect of a parcel of land on which a second individual - typically a conacre tenant - simultaneously claims the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Allowances (LFACA).

Minister O'Neill said the decision to introduce the control framework, requiring a written conacre agreement, was supported in the recent public consultation and is in response to EU Commission auditors' criticism.

She said: "I have decided that a suitable written conacre agreement will now be required between all Single Farm Payment and Less Favoured Areas Compensatory Allowance Scheme claimants where a dual use claim exists. This new requirement will be in place for the 2013 Single Application process. "

The Minister continued: "In order to minimise the potential administrative burden on dual use claimants arising from this new requirement, my officials have been working with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Ulster Farmers' Union to adapt the Institute's Model Conacre Licence Agreement. A copy of this agreement will be made freely available and I would strongly recommend all those who will be in a dual use situation in 2013 to make use of it.

"It is extremely important that all those in a dual use claim situation put a suitable written conacre agreement in place as soon as possible. In future, failure to produce a written agreement, when requested to do so, could result in the LFACA payment being refused and a penalty for over-declaration being considered. In addition, the absence of such an agreement could raise doubts about the legitimacy of the corresponding SFP claim. Using the RICS model agreement is the best way of meeting these new requirements and protecting your payments in 2013."

RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins, said: "RICS first created the RICS Model Conacre Agreement in 2005 to deal with some of the issues raised by the introduction of the Single Farm Payment, which was perhaps the biggest change in agriculture for some 30 years. It has proved to be a valuable tool in ensuring all parties involved in a conacre agreement understand their rights and obligations. Working with DARD and the UFU, we have updated the agreement and it has undergone a public consultation to ensure it is as robust and as user friendly as possible. We are very pleased that DARD has agreed to accept the RICS Model Agreement as a means of demonstrating that the required controls are in place in the case of dual use claims."

Source: Northern Ireland Executive - O'Neill Announces Conacre Agreement Plans for Dual Use Claims