Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 57.

Questions (61)

Micheál Martin

Question:

61. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the proposals he has made, if any, to reduce the level of penalties and inspections on farms and to increase the level of tolerance for practical farming issues under cross compliance as part of the current Common Agricultural Policy negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29353/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Commission proposals on reform of the CAP have been the subject of negotiations at official and political level in the Council of Ministers over the past 18 months, culminating in an agreed Council position which was reached at the Council on 18/19 March.

The three institutions (Council, Commission and European Parliament) have been involved in the trilogue process of negotiations since early April and it is hoped that a final agreement can be reached by the end of the Irish Presidency. It is, therefore, not possible at this stage to speculate on the precise content of the final agreed package.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 57.

Fish Exports

Questions (63)

Joe McHugh

Question:

63. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding Irish seafood exports to Asia; and his plans for expanding the size of Ireland's market share. [29225/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Irish seafood industry has been very successful in growing exports to Asia. Exports in 2012 were valued at €26 million, 83% up on 2010 (€14 million) including an 86% increase in the value of exports to China (from €4.1 million to €7.7 million). South Korea, China, Japan and Hong Kong together accounted for 95% of export value in 2012.

My Department’s agencies are working closely with the seafood industry on developing the Asian market and in particular, China, where the demand for premium seafood continues to grow and to outpace production. Ireland is well placed to capitalise on the opportunity offered by rising incomes and increased spending on dining out by Chinese consumers on quality product.

Trade research by Bord Bia identified potential customers in China for boarfish, a new species for which Ireland has a significant quota of ca 57,000 tonnes and together with BIM is developing the market for whole boarfish for human consumption and a range of minced formats for the catering trade.

Scale is being developed through companies’ collaborations and joint ventures as well as investment in seafood processing and competitiveness. BIM is focusing in particular on China and facilitating joint ventures between key Irish seafood companies. Joint ventures enable these companies to pool resources, reduce duplication and logistic costs and develop scale in the market to ensure effective market presence and service to customers. During 2012, two joint ventures were formed between leading Irish seafood companies :

Ocean Jade – a Joint Venture between, Sofrimar, Shellfish De La Mer, Carrs and McBride Fishing and Atlantic Gold – a Joint Venture between Rockabill Shellfish and Atlanfish.

The joint ventures have developed commercial structures with sales and marketing personnel operating on the ground in China and results are very encouraging.

Bord Bia operates programmes to assist Irish seafood processors in identifying new customers. 12 companies representing processors from the salmon, shellfish and pelagic sectors, will be represented in the Irish Pavilion at the China Fisheries Show, the largest seafood specialist show in Asia, in November. A pilot for 4 Irish seafood companies in 2011 resulted in new orders and 12 companies attended in 2012. Bord Bia works with Irish processors with retail listings in China to inform consumers through in-store tastings and leaflets in Chinese on the species, health benefits and recipe ideas on Irish seafood and also with the Chinese media and chefs. Chinese and Japanese customers are encouraged to visit Ireland and have been invited to the September conference - ‘Our Food Our Future, Sustainability: The Bottom Line’. Client companies are provided with individual services and tailored itineraries. Bord Bia Marketing Fellowships give seafood companies an opportunity for a dedicated resource in China. Two companies now employ their Fellow full time and the next Programme commencing in July will see seafood companies benefit in China and Japan.

Food Harvest 2020 has set a goal of increasing the value of the seafood sector by €50 million by 2013 and by €100 million by 2015. This will require a scaled Irish seafood industry and BIM is promoting an integrated approach to value-added growth with the priorities of expanding the raw material base, maximising the value of raw material through market-led innovation, new product development, branding and eco-certification and developing scale through collaborations and joint ventures, investment in seafood processing and competitiveness.

For my part, I consider that the positive outcome of the Irish Presidency in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy provides strong support for the sustainable growth of the seafood sector.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Questions (64)

Dara Calleary

Question:

64. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when it is expected that the new areas of natural constraint will be designated under the Common Agricultural Policy agreement 2014-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29373/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Discussions on the methodology for designating areas of Natural or specific constraint, currently known as Less Favoured Areas, has been ongoing for some years. In conjunction with the Joint Research Centre, the EU Commission has proposed a system for designation for the next round which is based on eight biophysical criteria which must be met at a certain threshold level. These criteria relate to (1) low temperature, (2) dryness, (3) excess soil moisture, (4) limited soil drainage, (5) unfavourable texture and stoniness, (6) shallow rooting depth (7) poor chemical properties and (8) steep slope. In addition 10% of a Member State’s territory may be designated as areas facing specific constraint without the need to meet the biophysical criteria.

The new method of designation is included in the current Rural Development proposal under the CAP reform package. This is a co-decision dossier requiring the agreement of both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

The Commission proposed that the new regime would apply from 2014 with provision for degressive payments until 2017 where Member States have not completed the new designation system by 2014. The Council of Ministers took the view that the commencement date for the new regime should be deferred to 2016. It also proposed a number of changes to the qualification thresholds and the cumulation options needed to meet these thresholds. The European Parliament proposed detaching this issue from the CAP reform discussions and proposed that the EU Commission present a revised proposal by 31 December 2014.

The negotiations on reform of the CAP are now the subject of inter-institutional debate in a process of trilogues and it is the outcome of this debate that will determine when the new areas of natural constraint will be designated and the final conditions attaching to such designation.

I am hopeful that we will secure political agreement on CAP reform between the three institutions by the end of this month.

EU Council of Ministers Meetings

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 32.

Questions (65)

John Browne

Question:

65. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the person representing him at the fishery Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels during the Irish Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29377/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In my capacity as President of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers, I chaired all of the Council of Ministers meetings which took place during the Irish Presidency. As Minister with responsibility for sea fisheries in Ireland, I directed and co-ordinated the Irish position on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and other issues that were considered by Council.

The Irish Government were also represented during this time by experienced senior officials from both my own Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The reforms agreed under the new CFP, secured after many months of complex negotiations with the European Parliament, represent a significant achievement for the Irish EU Presidency team and will be of great benefit in securing a more stable, profitable and secure future for our fishermen and coastal communities dependant on fishing.

The reform of the CFP will support the rebuilding of fish stocks in our waters as Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas are set to deliver maximum sustainable yield by 2015, where possible and by 2020 for all stocks and the wasteful practice of discarding fish is phased out. The reform will also, for the first time facilitate real and meaningful regional decision making under the CFP and will give stakeholders a greater say in how their fisheries are managed. The changes once implemented will mean, real, meaningful reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will determine European fisheries policy for the next decade and beyond.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 32.

Fallen Animal Statistics

Questions (67)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

67. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of fallen animals recorded each month this year compared to the same month last year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29346/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The number of fallen bovine animals for the period requested is as follows

Month

2012

2013

January

17,742

24,376

February

29,928

35,959

March

36,307

49,758

April

31,753

47,974

May

25,740

32,256

Note: Information on deaths of other species is not recorded.

As will be seen from the data provided, mortality figures are generally higher this year than in the same period last year. This can be explained by disease challenges, environmental factors together with the recent fodder crisis, as well as an increase in the bovine population. Another factor is the national compulsory BVD eradication programme which recommends that persistently infected (PI) calves are culled as soon as possible after being identified. The Deputy will be aware too of the efforts that my Department and other stakeholders have made to deal with the fodder crisis that faced many farmers earlier in the year.