Land Issues

Questions (210)

Michael Creed

Question:

210. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the incentives available from the State to encourage the early transfer of land to young qualified farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12125/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Recent analysis shows that there are more farmers over 80 than under 35 in Ireland. I have been working to encourage more new entrants to take up farming as a career. Budget 2013 saw the extension of key reliefs that were already in place for young new entrants (such as the 100% relief from Stamp Duty and the 100% stock relief for Young Trained Farmers). These provide an incentive both for early inter-generational farm transfer and also encourage young qualified farmers to expand their enterprise. Extending these reliefs is not straightforward given that there is a requirement for EU State Aid approval for such measures. The deputy will also be aware that changes were made to retirement relief in budget 2012 to encourage earlier inter-generational land transfers.

I am delighted that the number of applicants for Teagasc courses has greatly increased the last two years. Teagasc has responded well to this demand have introduced new courses to cater for a variety of needs. For example, last year Teagasc has launched a new Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (Level 7) in association with University College Dublin (UCD). Teagasc have also developed a new Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration course to help meet the training requirements for full-time or part-time farmers.

Measures to provide targeted support to young farmers are part of the current negotiations on the reform of the CAP and will I hope form part of any final agreement. I have strongly supported the proposal for a top-up for young farmers under pillar 1 of the CAP, and indeed Ireland was one of the first countries to suggest this measure in the negotiations. I am also happy that the new farm restructuring CGT relief has been announced in the 2013 budget, subject to EU State Aid approval. This is the result of detailed work which analysed the reasons why the old stamp duty consolidation relief was not working. I am confident that the new relief in relation to Capital Gains Taxes will be more effective, especially given that Stamp Duty rates have been reduced. Re-structuring is essential for us to meet the Food Harvest 2020 targets.

We need to use land more productively and encourage more young farmers to make the best use of the land. A recent EU Commission study found that ‘younger[farm] managers tend to perform better than the EU average, with 46% more area and 57% more economic potential for 21% more labour force ’. Ireland has a very low level of land sales, with most land staying within the same family for generations. Only 0.4% of land changes hand in any given year. Young farmers that want to expand need to be able to access land. According to the latest census of agriculture the average farm has 3.8 land parcels. This means that our farmers are wasting time and diesel driving between plots of land, increasing the stress and the risk of accidents. Young farmers will now have an opportunity to consolidate their holdings and increase efficiency.

I am hopeful therefore that the measures that I have both retained and introduced will encourage more young people into farming and address the age profile imbalance in Irish farming.

Harbour Authority Properties

Questions (211)

Finian McGrath

Question:

211. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the proposed parking plan at Howth, County Dublin. [12134/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The documents enclosed are further submissions from the Howth Sutton Baldoyle Chamber of Commerce and the Howth Yacht Club addressing the issue of pay parking within the Fishery Harbour Centre at Howth. I have received previous submissions from both parties in relation to this matter. I am considering all aspects of the matter at present and I will take account of these further submissions and all of the previous correspondence received in coming to a decision.

Afforestation Programme

Questions (212)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

212. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason that there is a significant difference between the rate of grant paid to farmers and non-farmers for afforestation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12231/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The higher rate of premium payable to farmers under the afforestation schemes is to compensate farmers for the loss of farm income arising from the conversion of the land from agricultural production to forestry. Landowners who are not engaged in farming do not incur such loss and are paid at a reduced rate of premium.

Animal Diseases Issues

Questions (213)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

213. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to deal with the threat of Schmallenberg virus and ensure that it does not become widespread here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12232/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is transmitted by vector (biting midges) during the vector active season which, in most years in Ireland, extends from the beginning of April through to the beginning of December. This virus causes mild transient disease manifesting as a drop in milk production, fever and sometimes diarrhoea in adult cattle. When infection occurs in animals that are not pregnant, the impact is very limited. However if ruminant animals are infected during the early stages of pregnancy, they may subsequently abort or give birth to malformed offspring.

It would be impractical to attempt midge control measures, except for valuable breeding stock. Exposure of non-pregnant animals to the virus may, in fact, be beneficial pending the development of an effective vaccine. Exposed animals develop a strong immunity and are unlikely to suffer any ill-effects if exposed to the virus on a subsequent occasion. If this viral infection becomes endemic, the ill-effects are likely to be confined to younger animals and cows and ewes that have not been previously exposed. Based on Australian experience in vaccinating against a similar virus/disease (Akabane virus infection), the expert view is that vaccination is likely to be an effective tool in control of the SBV infection. The development of a vaccine is in progress and my Department will continue to monitor developments closely.

Meanwhile, farmers are advised to contact their veterinary practitioner if they encounter cases of aborted foetuses or newborn animals showing malformations or nervous signs and also in cases where lambs or calves cannot be delivered naturally.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (214)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

214. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a revised decision will be made on as application for disadvantage area scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12233/13]

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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 are impacted by the requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare 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 has adjudicated on this appeal and the person concerned has been notified of the unsuccessful outcome and the reasons for this (records supplied by applicant in support of derogation application show animal in question going to factory on 10 December 2010, rather than 2011), in writing, on 31 January 2013. As advised in that letter, it is open to the person named to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Harbours and Piers Funding

Questions (215)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

215. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to carry out repairs to the old pier in Roundstone, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12234/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department provides funding for the development, maintenance and repair of harbours, piers and slipways as part of the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme on an annual basis subject to the availability of exchequer funding. The 2013 programme is currently under consideration.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Questions (216)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

216. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the disadvantaged area payment will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary who has complied with REP scheme plan stocking level; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12235/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the holding of the person named has recently been confirmed as having met the minimum stocking density requirements of the Scheme, payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Suckler Welfare Scheme Eligibility

Questions (217)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

217. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason suckler welfare scheme payments were not paid for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12237/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Terms and Conditions of this Scheme require that applicants undertake to carry out and notify to my Department details of all the specified measures for the full 5 year duration of the Scheme. Weaning information was not received in respect of animals born in 2009 and so payment could not be made for animals born in that year or subsequent years.

Correspondence has recently been received from an agent, on behalf of the person named, and based on this new information, it is appropriate to reconsider the position. My Department is in the process of contacting the agent concerned in relation to submission of data for the 2009 born animals. On receipt of the data, and subject to confirmation of compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme, payment will be made for animals born in each of the years specified.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (218)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

218. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a headage payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12246/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Full payment under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme issued to the person named on 26 September, 2012 (the first day of payment under the 2012 Scheme) directly to the nominated bank account.

Departmental Programmes

Questions (219)

Brendan Smith

Question:

219. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the proposals, if any, he has to introduce a compensatory programme in respect of losses incurred by farmers under the BVD eradication programme; his plans to re-introduce the €100 welfare payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12278/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The provision of funding for compensation in the context of the compulsory phase of the BVD programme must be placed in the context of the economic benefits accruing to farmers arising from the eradication of this disease and, particularly, the short payback time involved for individual farmers as well as the scarce budgetary resources available to my Department. It has been estimated that the eradication of this disease is very beneficial to farmers. I should also emphasise that the strategy of my Department is to concentrate its scarce resources in continuing to support Animal Health Ireland in its ongoing work in establishing control programmes for non-regulated diseases of livestock in Ireland.