Departmental Staff Data

Questions (243)

Clare Daly

Question:

243. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Defence if he will outline the numbers and cost of agency staff under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11060/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are a total of 5.5 nursing positions at various military installations that are currently filled by agency staff at a total cost during 2012 of approximately €290,000. Agency staff are only employed where there are compelling reasons to engage a person on either an urgent or temporary basis.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (244)

Pat Breen

Question:

244. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding a disadvantaged area scheme 2012 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10472/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named is one of a number of applicants under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, whose cases were impacted by the requirement to have had a minimum stocking density on their holding of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011 and who applied for and were refused derogation in this regard. The person named subsequently availed of the option to appeal to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee. The Committee is currently adjudicating on this appeal and the person named will be notified of the outcome, in writing, once this adjudication is completed.

Horticulture Sector Issues

Questions (245)

Martin Ferris

Question:

245. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there will be a grant scheme for horticulture, including mushrooms, for 2014 following the close of the NDP funded scheme. [10473/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector, funded under the 2007-2013 National Development Plan, provides grant aid for horticultural growers who are making capital investments in specialist plant and equipment.

The main objectives of the scheme are to improve the quality of products, to facilitate environmentally friendly practices and promote diversification of on-farm activities in response to market demand. Apart from improving the quality of products, investments under the scheme have also significantly extended the growing season for Irish produce.

During the period 2008-2012, €16.1 million was allocated to 528 projects. The grant aid covers all areas of the horticultural industry and assisted in funding investments of approximately €40.3 million during the period.

The present Scheme expires at the end of this year. In addition the Scheme also requires approval from the EU Commission under EU State Aid Rules. The EU Commission’s current approval to operate the Scheme expires on 31 December 2013.

A decision has not yet been taken on whether a similar scheme will continue to operate in 2014.

The closing date for receipt of applications under the 2013 round of the Scheme was 15 February 2013. My Department is currently processing these applications with a view to issuing approvals to successful applicants. A budget of €3.25 million has been allocated to the Scheme in 2013. This should facilitate specialist capital investment of circa €8m by growers in the current year.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Applications

Questions (246)

Pat Breen

Question:

246. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10487/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named registered 12 animals for the 2011 Suckler Welfare Scheme. When initially applying to participate in the Scheme in 2008, applicants undertook to carry out and notify my Department of relevant measures carried out in respect of their animals for the full 5 year duration of this Scheme. In August 2011, applicants were informed of the requirement to notify details of such measures within one year of birth. In this particular instance, all 12 animals were born between February and June 2011 and data in relation to the measures carried out on these animals was not received until 18 December 2012.

In order that the case may be considered further, it will be necessary for the person concerned write to the Review Officer, Suckler Welfare Scheme, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Government Offices, Portlaoise, Co. Laois, setting out the circumstances surrounding the late submission of the data, and providing any supporting medical evidence.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (247)

Dan Neville

Question:

247. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an agri-environment options scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10500/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on 22 November 2012.

The initial processing of the applications has been completed and acknowledgement letters have issued to all applicants. The detailed actions listed in each application are currently being recorded and all applications will be ranked and selected according to the predetermined selection criteria. This process is expected to take several weeks and letters will issue to all applicants informing them of the outcome of the selection process in due course. In the event that any queries arise on the application of the person named during this process officials in my Department will be in direct contact with the person named.

Food Labelling

Questions (248)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

248. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will take steps, at Irish and EU level, to ensure, in view of the current food packaging crisis, that processed meat products, including those which have undergone a substantial transformation, would state clearly on them whether or not the meat is Irish, and not just because it was packaged here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10505/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2011 the European Union passed a new Council Regulation on Food Information for the Consumers (FIC), Regulation 1169/2011, which has updated the requirements for consumer information and labelling in a number of areas including; country of origin or place of provenance including the origin labelling for meats other than beef, voluntary labelling of all foods and the mandatory labelling of meat as an ingredient. These requirements will have to be implemented by way of EU Commission implementing regulations and it is expected that they will come into force between 13 December 2013 and the end of 2014.

The question of how to label processed meat products that are made from raw material imported from one country but “substantially transformed” in another country will be part of the discussions in relation to the country of origin labelling of meats other than beef and the voluntary and mandatory labelling of other foods and meat as an ingredient.

In considering this matter account has to be taken of the need to ensure that Irish meat continues to be exported for further processing to other EU and third countries as this is vital to the maintaining out livestock industry and the 80,000 who have a livestock enterprise. In addition regard must be had to the many Irish companies (and their employees) who process both Irish and other raw material into value added products for consumption on the domestic and overseas market and who are an important part of our agri-food industry.

However I am acutely aware of the concerns of consumers and their need to be informed as to the source and content of the processed meat products they are consuming. In this context acting in my capacity as Chairman of the Agriculture Council, I recently arranged with the Member States and the EU Commission for an EU wide coordinated programme to be implemented which will include additional DNA testing of meat, to establish the extent of the mislabelling problem across the EU.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (249)

Michael Creed

Question:

249. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in issuing an agri-environment options scheme payment to a person (details provided) in County Cork. [10635/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1 September 2011.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks an overclaim was discovered in respect of the claimed area on the Traditional Hay Meadow action. Officials in my Department are now finalising the application of the person named and arrangements are being made to issue payment for 2011 as soon as possible.

Payments in respect of the 2012 Scheme year are subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investments through checks on receipts. These checks have now been completed and following the payment for 2011, the payment in respect of 2012 will be finalised.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Questions (250)

Frank Feighan

Question:

250. Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an application for disadvantaged area scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [10666/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, holdings of eligible applicants are required to have met a minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units for a retention period of six consecutive months, in addition to maintaining an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year.

While the holding of the person named was confirmed as having bovines from 17 July 2012, this is not a sufficient period to satisfy the six month minimum requirement and to date my Department has no details of any additional livestock on the holding. Therefore, as of now, no payment is due under the 2012 Scheme.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (251)

Michael Creed

Question:

251. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in the issuing of disadvantaged area and single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10669/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Following a death in the family concerned, it was necessary that the legal processes be completed and the resultant amendments made to my Department’s records, on foot of legal documentation submitted. These processes have been completed and payments under both the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme have issued respectively in December 2012 and January 2013 to the legal representatives. The payments issued to the bank account nominated to my Department.