Suckler Welfare Scheme Eligibility

Questions (26)

Micheál Martin

Question:

26. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers broken down by county who will be affected by budget 2013 changes to the suckler cow welfare scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55966/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, is, in fact, is due to end on 31 December 2012. This Scheme was a five-year Scheme for beef animals born in herds owned by eligible participants during the period, which commenced on 1 January 2008 and ending on 31 December 2012. In that regard, I have made funding of €10 million available in 2013 to continue to make aid payments on calves born in 2012. The primary objectives of the Scheme are summarised as follows:

-Enhance welfare standards for animals produced from the suckler cow herd.

-Improve husbandry standards at weaning time leading to reduced illness and mortality and enhanced health of the National herd.

-Provide education and knowledge building among farmers on best practice in suckler herd health and welfare.

- Improve the genetic quality of the national suckler herd.

- Improve the competitiveness of the Irish beef industry and the quality of the beef produced.

A Value for Money Audit, which was undertaken in accordance with the Department of Finance Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative, established that the Scheme has largely achieved these objectives. The 34,000 participants, who continued in the Scheme over its five-year duration, are fully aware that following best practice in the breeding, animal health/welfare aspects and rearing of suckler calves leads to better prices and demand at weanling sale time.

In addition, I have allocated €10 million in 2013, financed from unspent Single Farm Payment Funds for a new support programme for suckler beef farmers to participate in a new Beef Data Programme. This programme will assist farmers in improving the genetic quality of Irish cattle and will maintain the data flow into ICBF in order to build further knowledge and more rapid progress in breeding and ultimately in profitability for farmers. In total, I have made provision for the payment of aid amounting to €25 million to the beef sector in 2013. I announced the establishment of a Beef Technology Adoption Programme in 2012, which will be retained in 2013. This Programme is built on the lessons of the Dairy Efficiency Programme and provided a €5 million financial stimulus to encourage, through the medium of professionally facilitated discussion groups, and a task oriented approach, the adoption of a more focussed commercial approach to beef farming.

I have arranged for the data requested by the Deputy by county to be forwarded directly to him in the format required.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Questions (27)

Michael McGrath

Question:

27. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason he imposed a cut of 22% on the sheep grassland payment which is having a negative impact on low income sheep farmers, many farming in marginal land areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55968/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Grassland Sheep Scheme is one of the measures funded by unused Single Farm Payment funds. Under the governing EU Regulations, the payment of aid under these measures cannot commence prior to 1 December. I am pleased to announce that payments under the 2012 Grassland Sheep Scheme to sheep farmers will issue in the coming days and that the vast majority of eligible applicants will be paid prior to Christmas. It is not possible to provide the data sought by the Deputy on the outcome of the 2012 Scheme before payments commence. However, I have made arrangements to provide the Deputy with details of payments under the 2011 Grassland Sheep Scheme in the format requested. Gross payments in excess of €17.7 million have issued to date to 17,843 applicants under the 2011 Scheme.

This Scheme, as originally implemented, was to run for three years: 2010, 2011 and 2012, with an annual budget of €18 million. I am, however, pleased to confirm that, notwithstanding continued adverse budgetary conditions, I was in a position to secure funding which allows the Scheme continue for a fourth year, albeit with adjusted funding of €14 million. Direct aid payments are important, but it is time for the sheep sector to adapt and develop their enterprises in line with other sectors. In that regard, I have decided to make funding of €3 million for a new Sheep Technology Adoption Programme, which concept has already proven very successful in both the dairy and beef sectors, with a maximum payment of €1,000 per participant. It is important that sheep farmers take action to increase and maximise their income from their enterprises. This can be achieved by improving breeding, animal health/welfare and grazing regimes. The dairy sector has demonstrated that the discussion group concept is an effective way to achieve such improvements.

Notwithstanding the financial adjustment made to the overall funding to the Grassland Sheep Scheme, hill sheep farmers, who join a Sheep Discussion Group will find that the aid they will receive in 2013 will increase by almost €590.

Feabhsú Céanna

Questions (28)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

28. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Timmy Dooley den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara an bhfuil sé i gceist aige airgead a chur ar fáil le feabhas a chur ar na céanna Inis Oírr agus Oileán Chléire; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [55985/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Is le mo Roinn an Cuan Thuaidh in Oileán Chléire agus tá sí freagrach dá réir sin as é a chothabháil agus a dheisiú. Tá monatóireacht á déanamh ag mo Roinn ar chúrsaí ag an gCuan Thuaidh le roinnt blianta anuas agus go háirithe ar mheath na coda sin den Chuan Thuaidh ar a dtugtar Srón an Tairbh. Tá an Roinn tar éis tús a chur le tionscadal anois chun struchtúr nua a chur in ionad struchtúr Shrón an Tairbh.

Tá an tionscadal ag Cléire ag dul ar aghaidh mar a beartaíodh. I mí Dheireadh Fómhair 2012 taisceadh iarratas pleanála ar oibreacha forbartha ag Cléire le Comhairle Contae Chorcaí agus cuireadh iarratas ar Cheadúnas Urthrá faoi bhráid na Roinne Comhshaoil, Pobail agus Rialtais Áitiúil. Táthar ag fanacht ar thoradh an dá phróiseas sin.

Tá dul chun cinn a dhéanamh maidir le forbairt Chléire faoi Chlár Forbartha Caipitil um Chuanta Iascaigh agus Bonneagar Cósta de chuid mo Roinne. Breithneofar leithdháileadh an mhaoinithe le haghaidh tionscadail caipitil faoi Chlár 2013, lena n-áirítear Cléire, ar bhonn an mhaoinithe Státchiste atá ar fáil agus na dtosaíochtaí eile atá san iomaíocht leo.

Is le Comhairle Contae na Gaillimhe an cuan ag Inis Oírr agus tá siadsan freagrach as é a dheisiú agus a chothabháil. Tá ról ag an Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta i bhforbairt bhonneagar na n-oileán amach ón gcósta freisin.

Tá maoiniú curtha ar fáil ag mo Roinn, áfach, le blianta beaga anuas faoina Clár Forbarthaum Chuanta Iascaigh agus Bonneagar Cósta chun cuanta, céanna agus slipeanna atá faoi úinéireacht na nÚdarás Áitiúil a dheisiú agus a fhorbairt ar mhionscála, arís, faoi réir dóthain maoinithe a bheith ar fáil ón Státchiste.

Tá sé beartaithe agam iarratais a iarraidh, in ord tosaíochta, ó Údaráis Áitiúla ar an gcósta le haghaidh tionscadail cháilithe lena n-áireamh faoi Chlár na bliana 2013. Déanfar aon iarratas a chuirfidh Comhairle Contae na Gaillimhe isteach maidir le hInis Oírr ar mhaoiniú faoin gClár a mheasúnú bunaithe ar an maoiniú Státchiste atá ar fáil agus ar thosaíochtaí náisiúnta ar an iomlán.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

Questions (29)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

29. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures taken by his Department to allow farmers additional time to comply with rushes control criteria for the single farm payment in view of the weather experienced this year and the inability of many farmers to access their land due to water logging and in particular certain areas that may not be designated lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55950/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department, in the context of delivering the Single Payment Schemes, Disadvantaged Areas’ Scheme and other area related schemes, is required to carry out a programme of annual inspections. This inspection regime covers both the eligibility of land declared to drawn down payments and also cross compliance aspects, to ensure adherence with EU regulatory requirements in the areas of public, animal and plant health, environment and animal welfare.

In order to be eligible under the Single Payment Scheme and other area based schemes, an applicant must ensure that all agricultural land is maintained in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC). Issues relating to control of rushes must, therefore, be seen in this overall context.

Farmers can keep grassland in GAEC by conducting an agricultural activity on it, such as grazing, harvesting forage crops, or by topping. Grasslands continue to be eligible where it is evident that the stocking rate on the land is sufficient and, for example, keeps rushes under control and avoids their proliferation. In such situations, the reality is there may not be a necessity to cut rushes. However, where a farmer cuts rushes as part of management practice, with the exception of certain designated lands, there are no restrictions on when this is done, enabling the task to be carried out at any time throughout the year once conditions are suitable.

I am acutely aware of the weather related difficulties being experienced by farmers and of their concern in respect of their ability to meet the various compliance requirements. When conducting inspections, my Department’s personnel take prevailing weather conditions into account. For example, where the practice is to cut rushes and it has not been possible to top them in the current year, inspectors will take a broader assessment including whether there is evidence that they have been cut in previous years. Where land is deemed ineligible, this, in the main, is a result of the inclusion of ineligible areas/features and where it is not being used for an agricultural purpose. In cases where land with rushes is rejected, it will be seen that this is due to the broader issue of insufficient agricultural activity being undertaken on it to keep it in GAEC.

In the event that a penalty is applied as a result of an inspection, an individual applicant can look for the decision to be reviewed. The applicant may subsequently appeal the outcome of any such review to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office. Finally, the applicant has the right to pursue the matter further with the Office of the Ombudsman. I should state that there is no specific provision in the EU Regulations concerned governing the right of farmers to seek a review of decisions. The review and appeals mechanism was introduced by my Department with a view to ensuring that every decision to impose a penalty could be challenged by individual farmers.

In this context, it is important that I stress the importance of the Direct Payment Schemes to both the farmers who receive these payments and also the wider rural economy. Annually these payments amount to some €1.8 billion. Therefore it is incumbent on my Department to ensure that the EU regulatory control environment is comprehensively implemented to protect these payments, allow the payments to be made quickly and to avoid substantial EU disallowances.

Animal Welfare Issues

Questions (30)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

30. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied that adequate provision has been made to meet requirements and costs imposed on the agrifood sector arising from the implementation of animal welfare legislation after 1 January 2013; if any particular difficulty has been brought to his attention in this regard; if he sees any particular response as being appropriate in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55908/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Animal Health and Welfare Bill, in the main, consolidates existing legislation in the animal health and welfare area. It does not introduce any new requirements on farmers. Animal welfare is an essential part of farming practices and the Animal Health and Welfare Bill represents a further step towards improving Ireland’s already high welfare standards and practices. Markets and consumers already recognise high animal welfare standards as an added value and enhancing welfare standards will serve to increase the competitiveness of Irish agricultural products. It is evident from recent grant schemes that my Department supports animal welfare programmes, for example the Sow Housing welfare scheme and the Laying Hen scheme which were brought in through the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme. My Department will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that Ireland can achieve the highest possible animal welfare standards across the board.

Dairy Sector

Questions (31)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

31. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has discussed the Irish Farmers' Association/dairy industry proposals for a tax relieved loan scheme to help the development of the dairy industry here with the Department of Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55964/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I have discussed the proposal for a tax relieved loan scheme with the Irish Farmers Association and other interests. The proposal was also discussed by my officials with the Department of Finance, who have responsibility for tax policy.

Ash Dieback Threat

Questions (32)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

32. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the biosecurity measures being taken to address the ongoing ash tree crisis and to prevent its spreading here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55846/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department yesterday announced a significant stepping up of its eradication measures based on the results of its ongoing Chalara survey. The interim results from the major winter survey currently being undertaken has confirmed further positive samples for the presence of Chalara. This brings the number of positive cases to 22, including 15 in young plantations, 6 in horticultural nurseries and 1 planted ornamentally in a garden. There have now been incidents of the disease in forest plantations in Counties Leitrim, Meath, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford, Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Longford and Galway. To address the threat to our ash woodlands, there will be a major eradication programme on sites where there are ash trees from confirmed positive imported consignments. The Department will supervise the destruction and re-establishment of these sites. A re-establishment grant will be made available to the owners of private plantations which are part of the Department’s current afforestation programme. Ash plants from the infected batches supplied to other sites will also be destroyed. While we are aware scientifically that the disease does not spread until the summer, the Department will be intensifying its efforts in dealing with this threat and destroying any ash trees that may present a risk of harbouring the disease.

In relation to measures already taken by the Department I can report that legal measures to prohibit the importation into Ireland of plant material from ash dieback infected areas were put in place on 26th October. These measures, introduced by Ministerial Order, took effect immediately. These controls were introduced in conjunction with similar measures taken by Northern Ireland authorities and Great Britain. Additional legislation was signed into law on 6th November restricting the movement of ash timber into the country. The legislation allows ash wood movement into Ireland if (1) it is accompanied by a plant passport certifying that it comes from an area free of the disease or (2) its free of outer round surface (no passport required) or (3) its kiln dried below 20% moisture (no passport required). In a further measure, a temporary suspension of the grant aiding of new ash plantations was introduced on the 5th of December.

Information about the disease is available on the Department’s website, including contact information for anyone who believes they may have ash with the disease. A poster about the disease has been circulated to every Teagasc, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Coillte and NPWS office in the country as well as other relevant private sector offices. Anyone who suspects Chalara has been asked to observe appropriate hygiene measures to help avoid its potential spread. In this regard all soil and plant debris should be washed off boots. Boots should then be sprayed with disinfectant and used water should be disposed of onto an area where the water will not run into a watercourse. In relation to clothing it is recommended to check all clothing and remove any plant material. Soil and plant debris should be washed off all tools and equipment with disinfectant.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme Payments

Questions (33)

Niall Collins

Question:

33. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount allocated to the TAMs scheme in 2012 by his Department; the amount that has been spent to date in 2012 on the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55987/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Total funding of €20 million was provided in the Department’s Vote this year for the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes which provide support for investment in the Poultry, Sow, Dairy and Sheep sectors. To date in 2012, €12.84 million has been paid out under the schemes and I expect that total expenditure will reach €15.1 million by the end of the year. Some of the expected savings have already been transferred to other on-farm investment schemes operated by my Department, particularly the Farm Improvement Scheme where expenditure will exceed the original allocation by €2.7 million by the end of the year. Expenditure is demand led in that successful applicants generally have two years under the schemes to complete the approved investment works and it is not always possible to determine the calendar year in which the expenditure will arise and to forecast expenditure accurately.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

Questions (34)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

34. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications received under the agri-environment options scheme 3 by 7 December 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55976/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Approximately 10,000 AEOS 3 applications were received in my Department’s offices at Johnstown Castle by close of business on Friday December 7, the closing date for submission of applications under the scheme. My Department is currently registering the receipt of all applications prior to commencing with the detailed inputting of application details. I expect that this initial recording of applications to be completed in the near future at which time I will have a more accurate count of the total number of applications received.

Ash Dieback Threat

Questions (35)

Niall Collins

Question:

35. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his response to the outbreak of the ash dieback disease here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55960/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department yesterday announced a significant stepping up of its eradication measures based on the results of its ongoing Chalara survey. The interim results from the major winter survey currently being undertaken has confirmed further positive samples for the presence of Chalara. This brings the number of positive cases to 22, including 15 in young plantations, 6 in horticultural nurseries and 1 planted ornamentally in a garden. There have now been incidents of the disease in forest plantations in Counties Leitrim, Meath, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford, Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Longford and Galway.

To address the threat to our ash woodlands, there will be a major eradication programme on sites where there are ash trees from confirmed positive imported consignments. My Department will supervise the destruction and re-establishment of these sites. A re-establishment grant will be made available to the owners of private plantations which are part of the Department’s current afforestation programme. Ash plants from the infected batches supplied to other sites will also be destroyed. While we are aware scientifically that the disease does not spread until the summer, my Department will be intensifying its efforts in dealing with this threat and destroying any ash trees that may present a risk of harbouring the disease.

In relation to measures already taken by my Department, I can report that legal measures to prohibit the importation into Ireland of plant material from ash dieback infected areas were put in place on 26th October. These measures, introduced by Ministerial Order, took effect immediately. These controls were introduced in conjunction with similar measures taken by Northern Ireland authorities and Great Britain. Additional legislation was signed into law on 6th November restricting the movement of ash timber into the country. The legislation allows ash wood movement into Ireland if (1) it is accompanied by a plant passport certifying that it comes from an area free of the disease or (2) its free of outer round surface (no passport required) or (3) its kiln dried below 20% moisture (no passport required). In a further measure, a temporary suspension of the grant aiding of new ash plantations was introduced on the 5th of December.

Information about the disease is available on the Department’s website, including contact information for anyone who believes they may have ash with the disease. A poster about the disease has been circulated to every Teagasc, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Coillte and NPWS office in the country as well as other relevant private sector offices. Anyone who suspects Chalara has been asked to observe appropriate hygiene measures to help avoid its potential spread. In this regard all soil and plant debris should be washed off boots. Boots should then be sprayed with disinfectant and used water should be disposed of onto an area where the water will not run into a watercourse. In relation to clothing it is recommended to check all clothing and remove any plant material. Soil and plant debris should be washed off all tools and equipment with disinfectant.

Budget 2013

Questions (36)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

36. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his view on the impact of budget 2013 changes to low income dry stock farmers with suckler cows and sheep with changes to the suckler cow welfare scheme, the sheep grasslands scheme and disadvantaged areas scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55967/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bearing in mind that the 2013 Budget was agreed against a background of a very difficult financial situation, I managed, with re-orienting and re-scheduling payments within my Department’s budget, to keep the adjustments made to Schemes to a minimum. It was also my objective to protect, in so far as is possible, the smaller-scale farmers situated in Disadvantaged Areas.

In relation to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, I am extremely pleased that, even within the tight budgetary disciplines, I was able to increase the funding for this Scheme by €5 million in 2013, to bring the total funds available up to €195 million. However, in view of the existing level of expenditure under this Scheme in 2012, it is still necessary to make adjustments, in order to keep within the new allocation. I have, however, ensured that farmers, particularly sheep farmers farming mountain type grazing, will not have their aid, which is important to the viability of their farming enterprises, reduced. In order the carry out the adjustment, I decided to reduce the area maximum area payable from 34 to 30 hectares in respect of farmers situated in More Severely and Less Severely Disadvantaged Areas. By achieving this adjustment in this manner, together with a number of technical changes, over 72% of all applicants will not have their basic aid changed.

The Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme was a five-year Scheme which is ending on 31 December 2012. I have, however, made funding of €10 million available for this Scheme in 2013. These funds will be used to continue to pay calves born the herds of Scheme participants when they become eligible for payment. Payments in respect of 2012 born calves, which are now eligible for payment, will commence next week. Taking into account payments of €22 million, which will be issued in respect of 2012 born calves, the Exchequer will have paid €158 million in total under this Scheme. This is a very substantial contribution to the very important beef sector. I am, therefore, pleased that a Value for Money Audit, which was undertaken in accordance with the Department of Finance Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative, established that the Scheme has largely achieved these objectives. The 34,000 participants, who continued in the Scheme over its five-year duration, are fully aware that following best practice in the breeding, animal health/welfare aspects and rearing of suckler calves leads to better prices and demand at weanling sale time.

It was important to build on progress made under the lifetime of the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme. Therefore, I have allocated €10 million in 2013, financed from unspent Single Farm Payment Funds for a new support programme for suckler farmers to participate in a new Beef Data Programme. When taken together with residual payments of €10 million under the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, this will amount to €20 million in direct payments to suckler farmers in 2013. This programme will assist farmers in improving the genetic quality of Irish cattle and will maintain the data flow into ICBF in order to build further knowledge and more rapid progress in breeding and ultimately in profitability for farmers. In addition, the sum of €5 million has been set aside to support the continuation for another year of the Beef Technology Adaptation Programme, a scheme that provides beef farmers with better information and improved skills to increase profitability on farms.

The Grassland Sheep Scheme is one of the measures funded by unused Single Farm Payment funds. This Scheme, as originally implemented, was to run for three years: 2010, 2011 and 2012, with an annual budget of €18 million. I am, however, pleased to confirm that, notwithstanding continued adverse budgetary conditions, I was in a position to secure funding which allows the Scheme continue for a fourth year, albeit with adjusted funding of €14 million.

Direct aid payments are important, but it is time for the sheep sector to adapt and develop their enterprises in line with other sectors. In that regard, I have decided to make funding of €3 million for a new Sheep Technology Adoption Programme, which concept has already proven very successful in both the dairy and beef sectors, with a maximum payment of €1,000 per participant. It is important that sheep farmers take action to increase and maximise their income from their enterprises. This can be achieved by improving breeding, animal health/welfare and grazing regimes. The dairy sector has demonstrated that the discussion group concept to achieve such improvements. Notwithstanding the financial adjustment made to the overall funding to the Grassland Sheep Scheme, hill sheep farmers, who join a Sheep Discussion Group, will find that the aid they will receive in 2013 will increase by almost €590.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Payments

Questions (37)

Mick Wallace

Question:

37. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his reasons for discontinuing the suckler cow welfare scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55955/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In the first instance I would like to set the record straight in that no decision was made to discontinue the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, which, in fact, is due to end on 31 December 2012. This Scheme was a five-year Scheme for beef animals born in herds owned by eligible participants during the period, which commenced on 1 January 2008 and ending on 31 December 2012. In that regard, I have made funding of €10 million available in 2013 to continue to make aid payments on calves born in 2012. The primary objectives of the Scheme are summarised as follows:

- Enhance welfare standards for animals produced from the suckler cow herd.

- Improve husbandry standards at weaning time leading to reduced illness and mortality and enhanced health of the National herd.

- Provide education and knowledge building among farmers on best practice in suckler herd health and welfare.

- Improve the genetic quality of the national suckler herd.

- Improve the competitiveness of the Irish beef industry and the quality of the beef produced.

A Value for Money Audit, which was undertaken in accordance with the Department of Finance Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative, established that the Scheme has largely achieved these objectives. The 34,000 participants, who continued in the Scheme over its five-year duration, are fully aware that following best practice in the breeding, animal health/welfare aspects and rearing of suckler calves leads to better prices and demand at weanling sale time.

In addition, I have allocated €10 million in 2013, financed from unspent Single Farm Payment Funds for a new support programme for suckler beef farmers to participate in a new Beef Data Programme. This programme will assist farmers in improving the genetic quality of Irish cattle and will maintain the data flow into ICBF in order to build further knowledge and more rapid progress in breeding and ultimately in profitability for farmers.

In total, I have made provision for the payment aid amounting to €25 million to the beef sector in 2013. I announced the establishment of a Beef Technology Adoption Programme in 2012, which will be retained in 2013. This Programme is built on the lessons of the Dairy Efficiency Programme and provided a €5 million financial stimulus to encourage, through the medium of professionally facilitated discussion groups, and a task oriented approach, the adoption of a more focussed commercial approach to beef farming.

Aquaculture Licences Applications

Questions (38)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

38. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when he expects to make a decision on the licence application by BIM for a fish farm licence in Galway Bay; the progress made to date with the consideration of this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55983/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has submitted an application to my Department for an Aquaculture and a Foreshore Licence for the cultivation of Finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay. The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is currently being considered fully in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the1933 Foreshore Act as amended. Every effort is being made to reach a determination in the case in a timely fashion subject to the provisions of the legislation. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further on an application which is under active consideration as part of a statutory process.

Agrifood Sector Issues

Questions (39)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

39. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he hopes to be in a position to make good any losses likely to be suffered by any particular category of farmer arising from ongoing financial constraints arising from the economic situation; if he is satisfied that he can assist economic recovery through astute management and encouragement of the agrifood sector with particular reference to the need to meet the targets of Food Harvest 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55907/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

While personal financial difficulties are primarily a matter between the individual farmers and their banks, nevertheless, my Department is in regular contact with farm bodies, various national banks and the Banking Federation on a regular basis to discuss all credit-related issues. In addition, farmers who are not satisfied with the service provided by their banks can apply to the Credit Review Office to have their case reviewed.

Financial difficulties will also be alleviated by improved productivity, enhanced skills and higher prices. In that context, the implementation of Food Harvest 2020 has a major role to play in improving overall competitiveness at farm and industry level as well in maximising the potential contribution of this indigenous sector to economic recovery. Significant progress has been made to date on its implementation. Milestones for Success 2012 indicates that substantial action has been taken on 40% of the recommendations while a further 50% are being implemented. The workings of the Food Harvest High Level Implementation Committee, which I chair, and our close engagement with industry is ensuring that all stakeholders actively commit to its work vision and targets. As a consequence, good progress made on the FH2020 targets and that the value of both primary output and exports has increased by almost 19% and 10% respectively vis-a vis the relevant 33% and 42% target increase set for 2020. The latest figures from the CSO also show that, by end 2010, the value-added element of the sector has increased by 5.6%.