Priority Questions

European Investment Bank

Éamon Ó Cuív


1. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to date to ensure access to European Investment Bank funds for the development of agriculture, food processing, rural development and forestry; the progress made to date; when it is hoped these funds will be available to be applied for; the amount of the funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26199/15]

As the Minister knows, his erstwhile colleague, the ex-Minister and current Commissioner, Phil Hogan, was in town last week. He outlined to us the super-availability of European Investment Bank funds. What progress has been made to date in getting our hands on these funds? Will there be State co-funding, etc.? I am sure the Minister will give me a very comprehensive answer and we will have great news today.

I think we will have good news. The need for continued investment and support in the agrifood and forestry sector is well established, and the recent approval of the forestry programme and the rural development programme are key supports in this regard. As a complement to the traditional grant-based approach to our schemes, the European Commission has announced that it plans to double the usage of financial instruments in co-funded programmes such as the RDP. Financial instruments can take the form of loans, guarantee funds or equity investments. The funding for any such financial instruments would have to draw on our existing RDP allocation of European agricultural fund or rural development funding, as well as national Exchequer funding. It is also possible to incorporate funding from other sources, and it is in this context that the possibility of EIB funding has arisen.

In our RDP, we have made a commitment to examining the potential for the use of financial instruments. Accordingly, I have asked officials in my Department to engage with the European Commission, the EIB and other stakeholders to identify areas where financial instruments could be implemented to best strategic effect and to explore the practical steps which are required to implement financial instruments. Any such financial instruments are required by EU regulation to be structured on a clear investment strategy which identifies real market failures and economic needs.

In addition, my Department has been exploring new and more competitive sources of funding and will continue to do so in the context of evolving market requirements. For example, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, which includes the EIB, is one of the funding partners and has recently announced a new agriculture investment loans product. This credit is available at favourable terms for investment by agricultural SMEs involved in primary agricultural production, the processing of agricultural products or the marketing of agricultural products.

Most people understand that what will be available are loans and the EIB money that is available is being made available to the agriculture and forestry sectors. I understand the Minister has to grant the money through some vehicle in Ireland if he is to proceed. Allowing for all the steps he has to take, such as negotiations and then establishing a vehicle through which to disburse the funds, will he indicate when he thinks farmers or those involved in forestry or processing - I take it all three are involved - might be able to apply for these funds? Are minimum and maximum amounts involved?

The level of detail in terms of minimum and maximum amounts is not yet available. What is under discussion and quite close to agreement is a product involving large Irish dairy processors. They have been negotiating with the Commission and the EIB to try to make available a new finance product for loans for dairy expansion. Such loans would involve long-term repayment conditions at relatively low interest rates. There is a view that even though Irish banks currently make a lot of money available to agriculture, the competitive nature of interest rates linked to those loans does not compare favourably with other European countries. The EIB is anxious to put finance into the sector.

It will take us a little bit longer to consider how we can use the existing funds we have to spend on the rural development programme, which total more than €4 billion, to leverage loan facilities on the back of that. We had a conference in Dublin last week at which Commissioner Hogan spoke. I spoke at a meeting of the EIB and a series of other stakeholders also contributed. It is an area about which people are very excited and products will be available to farmers and the food industry in the not too distant future.

I thank the Minister. Many farmers have a very simple question and he knows what it is, that is, whether loan funding will be available to match the grants available under TAMS, for example, which is a capital investment scheme. Younger farmers, in particular, might find the interest rates of the current products available from financial institutions rather burdensome. Will the Minister indicate whether a three-month timescale is involved, allowing for the fact that Europe closes for August? Will funds not be available until 2016 to farmers under TAMS, for example? Will he indicate the interest rates involved? Will they be 3%, 4% or 5%? What will be the maximum loan periods? These are crucial questions on which people would like some indication at this stage.

They are very fair questions. It would be irresponsible of me to start outlining the terms of what will be, in effect, a commercial loan facility for farmers. The idea would be that they would be made available at more competitive rates than are currently on offer. I have said many times that if one considers the current volume of lending by Irish banks into agriculture, in particular dairy, one will find it is very significant. I do not think it is as competitive as it could or should be compared with what farmers have available to them in other parts of Europe. We are encouraging the introduction of new financial products for Irish farmers. Only this week we announced a €50 million fund for the latest dairy TAMS product, TAMS II. There will be significant uptake of that, but we should not forget that people have three years to spend the money on their farms. There is no mad rush. People should apply and look for the best financial products. More financial products will be available before the end of the year.

Horse Racing Industry Development

Martin Ferris


2. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is aware of the effort of the Irish Harness Racing Association to stage races at Dundalk race track, County Louth, the objection to this by the publicly funded Horse Racing Ireland and the obstacle this is to the development of the sport of harness racing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26202/15]

Is the Minister aware of the efforts of the Irish Harness Racing Association, IHRA, to stage races at Dundalk race track? Being an all-weather track, it is the only suitable race track in the State, to my knowledge. Is the Minister aware of the objection by the publicly funded organisation, Horse Racing Ireland, HRI? It is my understanding HRI has members on the board in Dundalk. I have seen a letter in which it objects to any harness racing taking place there.

I am glad that the Deputy has asked this question. I have met a number of people interested in developing the sport of harness racing in Ireland to match the standard in other countries. It could be a big sport and industry in Ireland, if managed properly.

Horse Racing Ireland, HRI, is the commercial State agency charged with responsibility for the development and administration of horse racing. Its remit is laid down in the relevant legislation. In that context, it authorises race tracks for the purposes of horse racing, including the track in Dundalk. The terms and conditions of such authorisation are operational matters for HRI.

The Irish Harness Racing Association formed a limited company in May with the aim of developing the sport of harness racing in Ireland. Harness racing is a significant equestrian sport in a number of countries, notably France, Sweden, Italy and North America. However, it has been a minority interest sport in this country, with fixtures staged throughout the year at venues such as Portmarnock, County Dublin; Inchydoney beach in County Cork and an all-weather facility at Annaghmore, County Armagh. I understand the Irish Harness Racing Association is seeking to expand the sport in Ireland and believes it has significant potential for development to bring it more into line with the profile it enjoys elsewhere and for revenue generation which it would then seek to have reinvested in the sport.

Following on from the establishment of a limited company in May 2015, I understand the Irish Harness Racing Association has applied for Ireland to become a full member of l'Union Européenne du Trot, UET, the umbrella organisation for national harness racing organisations in 22 European countries. This would open the way for Irish competitors to compete in Europe. In line with its ambition to elevate the sport to a more professional and sophisticated plane in this country, the Irish Harness Racing Association has been considering the feasibility of running fixtures at venues of a higher quality than those to which it has heretofore been confined.

I thank the Minister for his reply. A presentation was made here the week before last and it is my understanding the French harness racing association is prepared to make a significant investment and provide prize money for three meetings at Dundalk race track if the IHRA can arrange them. I also understand a harness racing meeting was held before at Dundalk race trace and that it was quite successful. I have seen a letter sent to Dundalk race track from Horse Racing Ireland, stating the reasons it did not want harness racing to take place there, one of which was commercial, meaning competition. If that is the case, it is disgraceful. Horse Racing Ireland is an association for thoroughbreds. I do not accept that it has a right to do this, given that as a committee we allocate significant funding to it each year, as well as to the greyhound board. Many say HRI's objections amount to bigotry and that HRI looks down on the sport. That in itself sends a wrong message.

The Irish Harness Racing Association requested permission from Horse Racing Ireland to stage a number of harness racing fixtures at Dundalk racecourse, one in July 2015, one in December 2015 and three in January 2016. The association's intention is that the first of these events would enable the French and European authorities to conduct an audit which would guide their consideration of the association’s bid for admission to the UET. I understand that, having considered the matter, Horse Racing Ireland decided that it was not within its remit to support the staging of harness racing at an authorised racecourse and that it had a number of concerns which it communicated to the Irish Harness Racing Association. Against that background, my Department has written to Horse Racing Ireland to ask if it would be prepared to reconsider the specific request from the Irish Harness Racing Association to hold the fixtures in July and December 2015 and in January 2016. I stress, however, that such decisions are ultimately matters for HRI and its board. I spoke to the chairperson of HRI about the issue on Saturday at the derby meeting at the Curragh. We live in a horse-mad country. Horse sports such as show jumping, eventing, racing and harness racing need proper structures and regulation to make sure we have it right from a welfare point of view and that we allow the sports to grow and expand in a managed, controlled, responsible and ambitious way. That goes for harness racing the same as it does for any other form of racing. I will engage with the organisations concerned to see if we can make some progress.

I am encouraged by what the Minister has said. The track in Dundalk is privately owned. It is not owned by Horse Racing Ireland, although it has two members on the board. It is disgraceful that HRI can exercise its influence over the track to deny the Irish Harness Racing Association the right to hold an event there. I am disgusted by it because I see it as a status thing. Because HRI is an association that deals with thoroughbreds, it looks down on harness racing. I have severe reservations about providing funding for HRI if this continues to be the case.

In defence of Horse Racing Ireland, it has a job to do in ensuring all authorised racetracks for horse racing are properly run and regulated. It also provides a lot of finance for many tracks. It does, therefore, have significant involvement in these matters, although it does not own all of the tracks. Having said that, the position is that harness racing takes place in very different ways in different parts of the country. I certainly want to move away from the image of it as racing up and down the Cork to Mallow road or on the beach. Although the beach can be a good venue, we need more structures and regulations, particularly on the welfare of animals. In many countries harness racing is a significantly bigger sport than horse racing. There is an opportunity for us to build something, but we need to do it in the proper way and make sure the venues are right. Whether Dundalk race track is that venue needs further discussion. There is a commitment from me to try to have structures and regulations for this industry in order that we can deal with the welfare concerns many people have and the bad image of harness racing in the minds of the public which is unfair to the sport. We can do this if we work together.

Plant Protection Products

Mick Wallace


3. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will prohibit the use of glyphosate herbicide in view of the World Health Organization's finding that the substance is probably carcinogenic to humans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26373/15]

In November last year the Minister defended the use of glyphosate, more commonly known as the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup pesticide, on the grounds that it had passed a 2002 EU safety evaluation. He said the comprehensive health assessments conducted by public authorities in the past 40 years had consistently concluded that glyphosate did not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. He might, however, have noted the findings of the project conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer which contradicted much of what he had said in November. Will he reconsider the effects of glyphosate in the food chain?

In truth, it is being looked at all the time.

Decisions on the authorisation of an active substance, such as glyphosate, are made at EU level following advice from the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA. Member states have competence to authorise products containing EU-approved active substances.

Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide that is applied directly to plant foliage. It was first commercialised in the mid-1970s and is registered worldwide. It is used in agriculture, forestry, industry, home and garden, and semi-aquatic areas. It is primarily used as a means of total weed control prior to the establishment of field crops or at the very end of the growing season to desiccate the crop to manipulate harvest date and improve crop quality.

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 regulates the authorisation, marketing and use of plant protection products. Maximum residue levels, MRLs, are currently in place, including for glyphosate, facilitating all currently registered uses. The MRLs are currently under review by the European Food Safety Authority and the member states.

Glyphosate was previously reviewed in 2002, as part of the EU plant protection product review programme which has allowed its continued use. A scheduled re-review is currently under way, with Germany acting as the rapporteur and Slovakia acting as a co-rapporteur. The process of peer reviewing the German-Slovakian evaluation is coming to a conclusion and it is expected that this process will be completed within the next few months. As part of the process the European Food Safety Authority is co-ordinating a review by all member states of its evaluation.

The German evaluators will also perform a thorough review of the classification issued by the World Health Organization agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, once its full report, which is expected in August, becomes available. All uses of products containing glyphosate approved in Ireland are in line with approved uses in all other EU states. Uses are only granted if the appropriate risk assessment indicates that safe use is possible under normal conditions. To date, no EU or, indeed, OECD countries have taken a negative regulatory position on glyphosate and currently all EU member states have product authorisations in place.

A German NGO research group, called Testbiotech, strongly criticised the German report the Minister is talking about and stated that the report failed to evaluate several peer review studies which were omitted for unknown reasons. To frighten us a bit more, they told us that Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment's pesticide committee has employees from pesticide giants that profit from glyphosate - two from BASF and one from Bayer - among its members.

Does it concern the Minister that the Dutch have changed tack on this? The Dutch are banning the use of glyphosate in public parks and any areas near people. Surely, there must be a reason for this. From November 2015, any product containing glyphosate will not be used by the Dutch.

The people are becoming afraid of it. We should be too. If cancer rates are growing in Ireland, there is something amiss. It is either something we eat or drink, and I am convinced that we have serious problems with our water table. I think we are being poisoned in the long term.

First, cancer rates are clearly linked to what we eat and drink, and what we smoke as well. There is a series of reasons for cancer and we need to be aware of that, and we need public health campaigns to try and address it. However, we also need to have faith in the European systems that have been put in place. I have faith in the European Food Safety Authority to ensure that reviews and, as they are called, re-reviews are done thoroughly. What is happening at present is that Germany and Slovakia, together, acting as rapporteurs to look at reviewing this substance, are doing that in a thorough way. It will then be fully peer reviewed before final conclusions are drawn towards the end of the summer. They are also tapping in to the World Health Organization to ensure that nothing is missed.

I take Deputy Wallace's point. Issues are raised by NGOs all the time. Sometimes there is something real behind those concerns. Sometimes they are raising questions that need to be answered or clarified. We need to look constantly at all of that. There is a comprehensive review under way. We will await the outcome of that with interest and we will act accordingly.

The Minister referred to the World Health Organization but the body that I referred to, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, is a WHO body. The Minister will probably be familiar as well with the fact the Corporate Europe Observatory has shown that the current authorisation of glyphosate relies on old out-dated testing protocols and, almost exclusive, on industry studies. The agencies, that the Minister quotes and that he states he can rely on, are riddled with industry lobbyists who are only interested in security of the chemical sector's profits.

That is nonsense.

It is outrageous that the Minister would argue that there are not persons lobbying on behalf of large corporate profits.

Of course, there are.

Look at what is going on with the TTIP. I refer to most of those trying to water down the regulations in Europe at present. The pressure is coming from lobbyists for big industry that has a profit motive and profits are being put before the health of the people. The Government should put the health of the Irish people before the profits of large chemical corporations making crazy money.

The Government always puts the health of Irish people before the profits of anybody.

Ban this substance then.

That is what the European Food Safety Authority is there for. Any organisation gets lobbied. Deputy Wallace gets lobbied.

The Minister is ignoring the WHO.

Deputy Wallace should let me answer his question. I did not interrupt him.

Whether it is TTIP or any other policy consideration, there will be lobbyists from all sides, from NGOs, industry, health organisations and stakeholders, because many people, including the Deputy, have different vested interests in different decisions.

This is not safe.

That is the way it should be. We need to have institutions that can balance and prioritise within those considerations. I am saying human health comes first. That is why we have a food safety authority and a world health organisation. It is why we are having a re-review here on the back of a review. It is why it will be fully peer tested. It is why Ireland and other European countries will act on the back of the results coming from that review. Deputy Wallace is not even willing to wait until August to get the results of the review. He has already decided because of something an NGO has said.

I am bringing the results to the Minister.

That is the reality. Deputy Wallace is seeing a conspiracy around the corner before we even get a result.

The Minister is prepared to ignore the WHO.

Beef Data Programme

Éamon Ó Cuív


4. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the percentage of suckler cow farmers who have herds of ten cows or less; the percentage of these who have applied for the beef data and genomics scheme 2015; his views on the low uptake of this scheme by smaller herd owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26201/15]

Based on data that has already been provided to me, it would seem that a small percentage of owners of small herds have got involved in the genomics scheme. Could the Minister give some indication as to the percentage of herd owners who have less than ten suckler cows and what percentage of those have applied to join the beef data and genomics scheme?

According to the most up-to-date figures available from my Department's animal identification and movement system, the total number of herds that have ten or less beef-breed female cows on their holding is 38,171 and this represents 52% of all herds with female beef-breed cows. Of course, these figures refer to farmers with significantly varying demographic profiles and include thousands of farmers with enterprises on their farms other than suckler farming. In many cases, suckler farming will not be the main farm enterprise practised on the holding.

There is a cohort of farmers within these figures who, for various reasons, do not engage with schemes for the suckler herd where additional defined action is required on their part, such as was the case under the suckler cow welfare scheme and for the pilot beef genomics scheme last year. The reasons include the part-time nature of many of these farmers who keep less than ten cows, or the fact that suckler farming is not their main farm enterprise.

Therefore, when looking at the profile of applicants under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, BDGP, or similar schemes, the relevant comparator is the profile of participants in previous schemes, such as the suckler cow welfare scheme and the 2014 beef genomics scheme. In that regard, I am satisfied that the profile of applicants under the new beef data and genomics scheme compares favourably with previous schemes for the suckler sector operated by my Department over the last decade or so.

Some 7,851 herds with ten suckler cows or less have applied for the beef data and genomics programme. This equates to 27% of the total number of applications received for the scheme, which is broadly proportionate to the level of participation in last year's suckler welfare scheme and the beef genomics scheme last year.

What we have examined is whether there is any change in patterns in the type of suckler farmer applying to participate in schemes and the answer is that there has not. Approximately one third of the applicants have ten cows or fewer. Another one third have between ten and 20, while the commercial suckler cow farmers have more breeding cows. It is more or less the same proportionate breakdown we would have had under the suckler cow welfare scheme which was launched by the previous Government and that we have had under the beef genomics scheme to date. There has been no real change.

The fact that there has been no real change does not mean that it is right. Based on data the Minister has given me - the figures he has given me now are marginally different from the ones he gave me previously - it is interesting to note that only 22% of farmers - I think he said the figure was 24%, but I will not argue over 2% because he is arguing with himself over his own figures - have ten cows or fewer.

I am sorry; the figure is 27%.

The figure the Minister gave me previously was 22%.

That may have been the figure under the previous-----

I can give the Deputy the figures.

On 26 May the Minister said that in the range of nought to ten, there were 39,605 herds. I was also informed by him that 8,677 herdowners had made applications. That works out at a figure of 22%, but I will accept the figure of 27%.

There were late applications.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív has the floor.

I will give the Deputy the updated figures.

That would be very useful, but we will accept the figure of 27%. On the same basis, in the case of farmers with 11 cows or more we are talking about, on average, 67% or 68% of those applying to participate in the scheme. It is obvious, therefore, that there is a massive difference in the percentage of farmers with ten cows or fewer who are applying.

I will come back to the Deputy.

The Minister has given some reasons for this, but none of them stands up. It is a fantastic answer, but it is meaningless. Is the Minister concerned that the take-up of the schemes by smaller farmers is so low, particularly when the farm organisations kept telling small farmers that they would be looked after under Pillar 2?

Small farmers are being looked after under Pillar 2, but they have to apply to participate in the schemes. We deliberately designed this scheme in favour of small farmers. That is why for the first ten animals a farmer receives nearly €100 per head. The figure is €80 per head after this. We deliberately tilted the scheme in favour of small farmers for the very reasons about which the Deputy is talking, unlike his approach to the suckler cow welfare scheme which did not deliberately discriminate in favour of those with small holdings. To be exact, in per hectare terms, it results in a payment of €142.50 on the first 6.6 ha compared to €120 thereafter. We are deliberately saying to farmers with smaller herds that we want to give them more money for their first ten animals, after which everybody receives €80.

In terms of the breakdown, I want to put the record straight because the Deputy constantly tries to paint me as someone who only looks after the big guy. If he considers the facts in terms of what we have done, he knows that that is inaccurate.

I will come back to the Minister.

The figure is 27% for farmers who have ten animals or fewer. The figure is 34% for farmers with between 11 and 20 animals; 19% for those with between 21 and 30 animals; 10% for those with between 30 and 40 animals; 5% for those with between 40 and 50 animals; and less than 2.5% for those with between 50 and 60 animals. The biggest cohort, therefore, comprises those with between ten and 20 animals. The second biggest by far comprises those with fewer than ten. The biggest categories of applicant by far are those farmers who have 20 animals or fewer, but the Deputy does not want to accept the reality of the success of the scheme.

I am sorry, but we are over time.

The Minister is a genius with figures. Obviously, a large number of the farmers fall into the category with the smallest number of animals. Let me give the Minister an example. There are 39,605 farmers in the nought to ten suckler cow range. There are 1,978 farmers who have between 41 and 50 animals. If every one of them was to apply - some 72% have applied - they would still not outweigh the 39,605 farmers with small herds. The manipulation of the percentages by the Minister is shameful. The reality is that in the case of those with more than 20 cows the average application rate is 68% to 70%. For smaller herdowners, the figure is 30%. For the Minister to say he is looking after small farmers is a blatant untruth. What does he intend to do to make the scheme attractive for small farmers? Will he confirm that the biggest of big farmers will receive the extra payment on the first ten cows just as the small farmer will?

As this is an area based payment, the same rules have to apply to everybody. On the first portion of a farm, 6.6 ha, a farmer receives the higher payment. That was deliberately changed by me to ensure we would favour small farmers.

The big guy gets it, too. If someone has 1,000 ha-----

Please, Deputy; the Minister has the floor.

The big guy does get it, but, on average, he receives less per animal the more animals he has.

For the first ten he gets-----

The Minister has the floor.

The reason the Deputy is uncomfortable is the scheme is starting to work.

It is not working for small farmers. Less than 30%-----

A significant proportion of applicants either have fewer than ten or 20 animals. That amounts to two thirds of applicants. The Deputy does not like the reality because, like others, he said farmers would not apply to participate in the scheme, but they have done so and in huge numbers. Some 30,000 have applied and we are writing to all of them. In time the scheme will work, as people will see.

Some 78% of herdowners have fewer than 20 cows.

I have to call the next question.

The only way to compare it is by comparing percentages of applicants.

This is a voluntary scheme and farmers choose to apply. It not mandatory.

I am moving to the next question.

The reality is that two thirds of those who have decided to apply to participate in the scheme have fewer than 20 animals. That is a good result.

They represent 80% of herdowners. It is farcical.

Bord na gCon

Mick Wallace


5. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the Bord na gCon National Greyhound Laboratory in County Limerick has accreditation for testing for Stanozolol; if he will provide an up-to-date certificate of accreditation for Bord na gCon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26374/15]

In response to a parliamentary question in May the Minister outlined that Bord na gCon had never identified any greyhound with a positive Stanozolol test result, implying that we did not have a problem with the drug in Ireland. The truth is very different. The most up-to-date accreditation certificate for the National Greyhound Laboratory available on the Bord na gCon website does not include Stanozolol in the list of substances for which it has received accreditation to test. The document indicates that the laboratory has received accreditation for a list of additional tests. Is Stanozolol is on that list or any other updated list. Has the laboratory in Limerick been accredited to test for Stanozolol in all its forms?

Bord na gCon is a commercial State body which was established in 1958 under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 chiefly to control greyhound racing and improve and develop the greyhound industry.

The sampling of greyhounds for the detection of prohibited substances is a key element of integrity management at Bord na gCon. Anabolic steroids such as Stanozolol are not authorised for use within the greyhound industry; therefore, Stanozolol is a prohibited substance.

I understand from Bord na gCon that the National Greyhound Laboratory, NGL, has accreditation status from the Irish National Accreditation Board which accredits the NGL to undertake sampling in compliance with international standards. The National Greyhound Laboratory has flexible scope accreditation. This means that it is in a position to validate and add any prohibited substance to its scope of accreditation at any time. It is not the practice for a racing laboratory to list all substances for which it has been accredited.

The National Greyhound Laboratory, including through its relationship with other laboratory services, provides the capacity to detect the anabolic steroid Stanozolol in samples obtained at licensed greyhound racing stadia. Bord na gCon is confident that these laboratory services, complemented by the use of intelligence lead sampling, can detect the unauthorised administration of Stanozolol to greyhounds where this has occurred. Bord na gCon has advised that it is awaiting confirmatory analysis of four samples obtained at licensed stadia to test for the prohibited substance Stanozolol.

I understand Bord na gCon has recently conducted a review of its integrity and regulatory systems under the guidance of Professor Tim Morris with particular emphasis on sampling and analysis for the presence of prohibited substances and medication control issues.

I thank the Minister of State. The rest of the reply will appear in the Official Report.

This is very important. To finish-----

I will come back to the Minister of State in a minute. He will have two more chances.

That is fine.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

This review is nearing completion and once it is finalised, I expect Bord na gCon to consider its recommendations with a view to identifying any amendments required to legislation, practices or policies to ensure the advancement of the board's commitment to greyhound welfare and to underpin the integrity of the greyhound industry.

The scope of the review encompasses the capacity of the National Greyhound Laboratory in Limerick, the general adequacy of the equipment used and the levels of testing for prohibited substances. The objective is to ensure Bord na gCon will conform with best international practice. I understand from Bord na gCon that in addition to testing samples at the National Greyhound Laboratory in Limerick, it also sends samples for analysis to an appropriate laboratory in the UK as required from time to time. I commissioned the Indecon report in recognition of the need to review and reform aspects of the greyhound sector, including matters relating to integrity services, and I view it as critically important that its recommendations are implemented with a view to ensuring the greyhound industry can reach its full potential and prosper into the future.

Am I to understand it has the capacity to test for Stanozolol? If it has, can the Minister of State explain to me why Irish dogs that have gone to Britain have tested positive for Stanozolol when they never test positive in Ireland? I do not understand that and neither do many people in the industry.

We all know there have been problems in the greyhound industry for a while. Turnover has halved since 2006 and is down something like 55%. There is a good reason for that. There is a lack of confidence in how the industry operates and there is a great deal left to be desired there. It is down to even simple things. Last month, the Minister of State told me there are more than 27,000 uncollected fines. Of the 140 fines handed out during the current Government's tenure, how many have been paid? There does not seem to be any discipline in how greyhound racing is working. According to the Department's own statistics, 10,000 people are directly or indirectly involved in the industry which has a turnover of approximately €500 million. This is very important for Ireland and it needs addressing.

I accept the point that this is a hugely important industry. There are 10,000 people involved, including small farmers and small-scale breeders throughout the country. That is why we put the Indecon report in place. Indecon reported back to us with an open, transparent plan to deal with the many outstanding issues over the next number of years, particularly financial issues but also in regulation and drug testing. We put that in place and it is being implemented. The Deputy is 100% correct that there is worry and fear.

On the review that has been completed on sampling, I note for the record that this review is nearing completion and, once it is finalised, I expect Bord na gCon to consider its recommendations with a view to identifying any amendments required to legislation, practices or policies to ensure the advancement of Bord na gCon's commitment to greyhound welfare and to underpin the integrity of the Irish greyhound industry. I note for the interest of Deputy Wallace and the people he represents that we want at all times to have integrity as a high priority. Nothing will stop us on the road to achieving that.

I thank the Minister of State.

That is what we are on and we need the opportunity to do it. There are many people in the industry who-----

I will come back to the Minister of State in a moment. I call Deputy Wallace please. I am trying to make some progress. We are ten minutes over time.

It is not my fault. The Minister and Deputy "quare fellow" there went on so long.

We will not revisit that, Deputy Wallace.

It is my fault again, is it?

No, I blame the other Deputy more.

Please, Deputy Wallace.

Will the results of the review to which the Minister of State referred be made public? On Stanozolol, the winner of the William Hill Derby in the UK, an Irish dog, was disqualified for testing positive for Stanozolol only recently. A breeder in Wexford was on to me last week. He told me that he could only get €900 now for a dog for which he would have got €3,500 ten years ago because there is so little faith in the industry. Another area in which there are problems relates to the Artificial Insemination of Greyhounds Regulations 2005, which we have discussed before. While the regulations have been changed, there are dogs which broke it previously and which are outside its rules. Baldoyle Honey won the Sporting Press Irish Oaks at Shelbourne Park in June and received €25,000 but is actually an illegal dog. Tyrur Sugar Ray is also an illegal dog. These guys break the regulations, but no one is doing anything about it. The big problem is that, unfortunately, too many people do not have faith in how the greyhound board is functioning.

Since we took over, we have put new people on the board. The term of others is coming to an end and we will be looking at that. At all times, we are putting people with the skills to which Indecon referred on the board. We have appointed an accountant and a vet who is one of the top specialists in the country. I cannot express what an advantage that vet has been to the board. There is an ongoing process of improving the board and the people around it.

I acknowledge that there is worry, but it is a broad statement to say a dog was worth €3,000 last year, but only €800 this week. That happens. It is real life. One could also have a dog that was bought this week for €100 that would be worth €3,000 in six months. That is the commercial life of dog breeding. Prices go up and down. If one has a good dog and he wins, one will make a fortune. If one has a poor dog, one will not make any money. That is real life in the greyhound industry. The truth of the matter is that the sales graphs show prices are increasing. Last week, 100 dogs were sold in Thurles and the graph shows the prices had gone up. It is not fair, therefore, to pick out one case in Wexford. If the Deputy meets people throughout the country, as I do, he will have a general view of what is happening in the broader industry and will not come to the House with individual cases. I ask the Deputy to do that. He should meet the people on the ground in Tipperary and throughout the country who are breeding dogs. They will tell him.

We have to move on.

Wait now. I have to make a point. There is no doubt the industry was in crisis. The economic downturn affected it. Indecon, however, has addressed many of the issues that are there. Going forward, the industry needs help and support, which is why the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund was increased in the budget. I commend the Government on doing that.

I thank the Minister of State.

We want to keep the industry and build on it because it has potential for employment. We need to support it in the House as well as outside because of all the small farmers in Kerry, Tipperary and throughout the country.

The Minister of State and I are talking to different people.