Health Services Provision

Michael Harty

Question:

945. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Health his plans to support the development of community based Parkinson's nurse specialists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36850/18]

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for it to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Hospital Staff

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

946. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if a sustainable solution has been found to restore full medical officer cover at a hospital (details supplied) in County Cork. [36851/18]

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Health Services Provision

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

947. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the provision of a specific HSE service (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the significant importance of this service to the area. [36868/18]

As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Home Help Service

Brendan Smith

Question:

948. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if additional funding will be allocated in respect of the home support scheme in counties Cavan and Monaghan in view of delays in putting in place such support from the time of initial approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36871/18]

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Question No. 949 answered with Question No. 562.

Abortion Services Provision

Joan Burton

Question:

950. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health his plans to proceed with special interim legislation in respect of parents with fatal foetal abnormalities as proposed by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36969/18]

I assume the Deputy is referring to regulating access to termination of pregnancy on the grounds of a fatal foetal condition. 

As the Deputy will be aware, there is a court process ongoing in relation to the result of the Referendum on the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution, held on 25 May 2018.  While this process is ongoing there are orders in place stalling the procedure to enact the constitutional amendment. This means that the referendum result remains provisional and the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018 cannot be signed into law by the President. Therefore, the Bill to expand the grounds for the legal termination of pregnancy cannot be published in the Houses of the Oireachtas, as article 40.3.3 remains unchanged in the Constitution.

However, as the Deputy will also be aware, the General Scheme of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 was published in advance of the Referendum on the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution, and an Updated General Scheme was approved by Government on 10 July 2018 and published on my Department’s website. Head 6 of the Updated General Scheme makes provision for access to termination on the grounds of a condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth.

It is my intention to bring the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill to Government as soon as possible. It is a priority for the Government to have a medically delivered, safe and regulated service for the termination of pregnancy for all those who require it in this State.

Brexit Issues

Joan Burton

Question:

951. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health the policy of his Department in respect of drugs policy in the event of a hard Brexit that full access will be maintained to medical supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36988/18]

In co-ordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Health and its agencies including the HSE and the HPRA are engaging in intensive Brexit preparedness and contingency planning in the area of health.

A number of issues are being examined and contingency planning for a range of eventualities is under way. One key issue will be to ensure that there is minimum disruption to health services and that essential services are maintained on a cross-Border, all-island and Ireland-UK basis.

Priorities include ensuring continuity in the supply of medicines/medical devices, ensuring access to services, manpower in our health services, recognition of qualifications, continuation of existing cross-Border health co-operation and public health arrangements.

This work is informing requirements and ensuring that we are prepared in all scenarios.

Farm Household Incomes

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

952. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to address issues in regard to supporting farm incomes (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35755/18]

Examination of appropriate measures to support all agrifood sectors, including the suckler and sheep sectors, is under way in my Department in preparation for the next iteration of the CAP. The measures adopted will be informed by stakeholder consultation on the needs of the sector to develop in an economically and environmentally sustainable way, as well as the available budget and structure of the new CAP when it is finalised.

Currently, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) period. This scheme is an agri-environmental measure to improve the environmental sustainability of the national suckler herd by increasing genetic merit within the herd.

My Department has rolled out a range of schemes as part of the €4 billion Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2014 - 2020. In addition to the BDGP, other supports which are available for suckler and sheep farmers under Pillar II of the CAP include GLAS, ANCs and Knowledge Transfer Groups. Suckler farmers also benefit from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments under CAP Pillar I.

To date in 2018, €2.8 million approximately has been paid to just over 20,000 sheep farmers from the sheep welfare scheme. I also recently announced a doubling of the financial support to sheep farmers of support payments for compliance with new sheep EID rules of €100 per farmer.

I am strongly of the view that the current range of supports available to suckler farmers, together with ensuring market access to as many markets as possible, both for live animals and beef exports, are appropriate supports for the continued development of the sector. National Farm Survey data suggests that suckler farmers receive support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow on average.

I will continue to argue for as strong a CAP budget as possible, post-2020. In particular, I am committed to ensuring that suckler and sheep farmers continue to receive strong support in the next CAP. My view is that such payments should support and encourage suckler farmers to make the best decisions possible to improve the profitability, and the economic and environmental efficiency, of their farming system.

As I outlined to the Joint Oireachtas Committee this week, I have also put in place a range of initiatives and supports aimed at reducing pressure on farmers in response to the current fodder shortages.

Rural Development Programme Funding

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

953. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to address issues regarding funding for farmers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35756/18]

Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014–2020 (RDP) represents a substantial investment, by both the EU and the National Exchequer, in the agrifood sector and in Irish farmers. The RDP is co-funded by the EU’s European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) to a sum of €2.19 billion over the programme lifespan. This EU funding is supplemented by Exchequer funding bringing the total allocation to €4 billion.

The latest review of the RDP confirmed that entire budget of some €4 billion is fully committed and is expected to be spent by the end of 2020, although there will be some carry-over into 2021. Under EU regulations governing the Rural Development Programme, funds for multi-annual commitments entered into by the end of 2020 may be claimed up to the end of 2023. The Review of Expenditure under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 completed in June 2018 has been published on my Department’s website and is available at the following link https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/ruralenvironment/ruraldevelopment/ruraldevelopmentprogramme2014-2020/ReviewRDPExpenditureJune050718.pdf .

With regard to funding for the Areas facing Natural Constraints (ANC) scheme, the financial allocation for 2018 is €227 million, which includes €25 million in additional funding on foot of the Programme for Partnership Government commitment to increase ANC funding. Based on current projections, the projected total spend is expected to be almost €1.5 billion for ANC and the transitional schemes LFA/DAS over the duration of the RDP. The projected spend for GLAS and the transitional agri-environment measures is €1.4 billion over the duration of the RDP. As the RDP funding is fully committed and expected to be spent.

The €4 billion investment under the Rural Development Programme represents a substantial vote of confidence in Irish farming and in rural Ireland. My Department will continue to review the implementation of the Rural Development Programme to ensure that the RDP funding is fully spent and thereby providing a vital support to our farming community and rural Ireland. My Department will also ensure that all EU funding is fully drawn down and that all targets set down under the Rural Development Programme are met.

In relation to low cost loans, I announced in Budget 2018 that my Department is considering the development of potential Brexit response loan schemes for farmers, fishermen and for longer-term capital financing for food businesses. These schemes are developed and delivered in co-operation with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and take time to develop and operationalise. Consideration and discussions are ongoing in this regard and I will announce further details on this as they become available.

Invasive Plant Species

James Browne

Question:

954. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to provide financial supports for farmers in County Wexford who must reseed their land upon the arrival of invasive species including Japanese knotweed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36602/18]

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is responsible for implementing the Wildlife Acts, the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), and the 2014 EU Regulation on invasive alien species (No. 1143/2014) which together provide the legislative framework on invasive alien species issues.

In law, control of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed is a matter in the first instance for landowners. The Good Agricultural & Environmental Condition (GAEC) 7 (Retention of Landscape Features & Designated Habitats and Controlling Invasive Species) requires that noxious weeds and invasive species must be controlled on holdings.

There is no funding currently available from my Department for reseeding of lands as a result of encroachment of invasive species such as Japanese knotweed.

Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme

Eugene Murphy

Question:

955. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of his plans for a voluntary farm building relocation scheme due to flooding issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36887/18]

The Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, last year announced the introduction of a once-off targeted Voluntary Homeowner Relocation Scheme. As part of the announcement the Minister outlined that a feasibility study would be undertaken in relation to a potential once-off targeted scheme for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation.

The study to determine the feasibility of any future once-off targeted scheme for Voluntary Farm Building Relocation is being undertaken. My Department has evaluated a range of at risk farmyards, impacted by flooding, to see if any alternative remedial works can be undertaken to protect farm buildings at risk of flooding and is currently considering this evaluation and feasibility of a future scheme.

Live Exports

Catherine Murphy

Question:

956. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to a live animal export episode in Cork Harbour documented by a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35498/18]

I can confirm that I have received representations from the group referred to in your question.

The protection of animals during transport and related operations is legislated for by Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 and S.I. No. 675 of 2006 European Communities (Animal Transport and Control Post) Regulations 2006.

The protection of animals during transport on dedicated livestock vessels and Roll–On/Roll-Off vessels is legislated for by S.I. No. 356 of 2016 Carriage of Livestock by Sea Regulations 2016 and S.I. No. 580 of 2007 Diseases of Animals (Animal Transport) (Roll–On Roll-Off Vessels) Order 2007.

DAFM inspectors were present at all stages of the consigning of the livestock from assembly centre to arrival and penning on board the vessel.

DAFM inspectors ensured the correct procedures were applied at the various stages of assembly, loading and transport of the animals in question. It can also be stated that high animal welfare standards were maintained throughout the operation.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

957. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of an agri-environment options scheme, AEOS, payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35520/18]

A full review has been carried out by the Regional Inspector, based on the outcome of the Agriculture Appeals Office decision.

The person named will be informed in writing of the outcome of this review and any outstanding payments due as a result will issue shortly.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

958. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the case of a person (details supplied) with regard to a farm payment that is being penalised will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35561/18]

The recent reduction applied on the parcel in question arose as a result of standard eligibility checks carried out by my Department. As a follow up to this process, a field visit is to be carried out in order to establish the most up to date position. This process should be completed shortly, and the results will be communicated directly to the person named.

Control of Dogs

Bríd Smith

Question:

959. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the enforcement of the 2015 legislation to microchip dogs that is in place; the fines and penalties that have been imposed since the legislation came into force; the reason some pounds are still not microchipping dogs three years after the legislation was enacted; and the details of the new databases in view of concerns that the new database is not approved (details supplied). [35580/18]

The available evidence about numbers of dogs chipped indicates a very high level of compliance.

The focus of enforcement by authorised officers operating under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 has mainly been on the wholesale sector and dogs being exported. Legal cases have mainly been taken against owners of unchipped dogs where this has occurred in conjunction with other issues, in particular animal welfare offences.

Many of the dogs in dog pounds are unwanted dogs who have been abandoned by their owners and unfortunately such individuals may not have taken a responsible approach to ensuring their dog’s traceability.

The operation of dog pounds and dog wardens remains the responsibility of Local Authorities. Many dog pounds have engaged with microchipping as they understand it is the most effective way to ensure smooth reunification and therefore I would encourage all Local Authorities to adopt best practice in this area.

The complaint raised in respect of an unapproved database is being investigated.

Aquaculture Licence Applications Data

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

960. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of communications in relation to aquaculture licences at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35605/18]

The very detailed information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in full. My Department’s records are currently being examined and a full reply will issue to the Deputy by my Department as soon as possible

GLAS Payments

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

961. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a farm payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35691/18]

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received payment for scheme year 2015 and the 2016 advance payment.

The participant was selected for a 2016 inspection and requested a review of the inspection findings. Additional documentation was submitted and examined by the inspector. The review has now been completed and a letter has issued directly to the person named.

Fur Farming

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

962. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans in relation to renewing fur farming licences when they next expire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35784/18]

My Department has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of farmed animals under the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations, 2010 (Statutory Instrument No 311/2010) and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. Irish fur farmers are, in this regard, subject to the same animal welfare legislation as other livestock farmers.

A review of all aspects of fur farming in Ireland was commissioned in November 2011. The Terms of Reference of the Review Group were:

(i) To review fur farming in Ireland taking into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming;

(ii) To comment on the economic benefits of the sector;

(iii) To consider the effectiveness of existing welfare controls, and

(iv) To make appropriate recommendations

The Review Group invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over four hundred submissions which were received.

The Group concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of banning the farming of fur animals in Ireland compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control.

On foot of the Review Group’s deliberations, my Department introduced more rigorous controls on licenceholders in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management. Licensees are subject to regular inspections, including unannounced inspections by Department officials.

Current licences will be subject to renewal provided the licenceholders comply with the regulations laid down by my Department.

Fish Quotas

Mattie McGrath

Question:

963. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address concerns that access to the fishing grounds of the porcupine prawn off the west coast of Ireland is being denied to Irish vessels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35815/18]

The available quota for nephrops (prawns) for the Porcupine grounds for 2018 was 1773t comprising 992t original quota, swaps of 561t in 2018 and 230t from swaps carried out at the end of 2017 which was carried over into 2018. The reported landings of this stock was 1827t by the 23 July 2018. I closed this fishery on 24 July 2018 as the quota has been fully exhausted. My officials are endeavouring to secure a swop of Porcupine nephrops from another MS to address the landings in excess of available quota.

Fodder Crisis

Mattie McGrath

Question:

964. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the measures he has taken to address the lack of fodder supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35816/18]

I would like to give the Deputy a full account of the actions and measures I have put in place over the short last while to meet the challenges in this sector. Following the fodder difficulties of last winter and spring I formed a representative group chaired by Teagasc, including stakeholders such as co-ops, banks, farm bodies, among others, to co-ordinate advisory messages to farmers this summer around replenishing depleted stocks of fodder. I have requested the group to co-ordinate advice on managing grazing and fodder conservation through this extended period of extraordinarily dry weather. Practical advice is being shared across the group on dealing both with the current weather and on filling the significant fodder gap.

On the 26th June last, I launched a national fodder survey to be compiled by Teagasc through its client network as well as clients of the other fodder group stakeholders, with another survey being conducted this week. Given the findings of this survey, the overall priority must be to conserve as much fodder for the coming winter as possible when the opportunity to do so arises.

I met with Commissioner Hogan on the 24th July last and briefed him on the impact on Irish Agriculture of the dry spell. I secured agreement from the Commissioner to pay higher advance payments this autumn. As a result, advances for Pillar 1 and 2 payments will be increased to 70% and 85%, respectively, resulting in €260 million in additional cashflow for farmers at a vital time of the year. I also proposed to Commissioner Hogan certain flexibilities for participants under the GLAS scheme which will replenish their fodder stocks for the winter period. In this connection I am pleased to have secured the agreement of the European Commission for these measures, which are now in place since 1st September and which together bring a potential additional 270,000 hectares into fodder production.

Furthermore on the 3rd August I announced a €2.75 million Fodder Production Incentive for Tillage Farmers to encourage tillage growers to actively engage in the fodder market. This measure will provide an incentive of €155 per hectare for tillage growers who grow a temporary crop of short rotation grasses for fodder production over the winter months and €100 per hectare for those growing catch crops such as fodder rape, turnips and brassica crops. Currently over 23,000 hectares of catch crops are supported under the Agri-Environment Scheme, GLAS. This additional funding commitment aims to incentivise a doubling of this area. I am confident this measure will support Tillage farmers to supply into the market for fodder. Tillage farmers are a critical part of our agricultural sector, supplying the brewing and distilling industry, grain to the feed industry and straw to the livestock sector, while also delivering other benefits.

Also, following consultation in August with my Government colleague, the Minister for Planning, Housing and Local Government, Mr. Eoghan Murphy T.D., flexibility has been granted on an extension to the closed period for spreading of chemical and organic fertilisers in order to capitalise on autumn grass growth for fodder production. This extra two weeks granted by Minister Murphy will allow application up to the 30th September and 31st October, respectively, and again maximise the opportunity for autumn production.

On the 22nd August I announced a €4.25 million Fodder Import Support Measure for Autumn 2018. The measure seeks to reduce the cost to farmers of imported forage, that is: hay, silage, haylage, alfalfa and others from outside the island of Ireland. The measure will operate through the co-operatives/registered importers and will cover forage imported from 12th August 2018 to 31st December 2018 and will of course be subject to EU State Aid (de-minimis) rules. I wish to confirm that while the measure will operate through the co-operatives/registered importers, the actual beneficiaries will be farmers who need supplies of fodder.

I know that the range of measures introduced by me to date taken together and targeted at producing as much fodder as possible from our own land provide the most effective response to a fodder shortfall. I can also assure you that I will continue to closely monitor and engage on this significant challenge during this difficult period.