Agri-Environment Options Scheme Reopening

Questions (161)

Dara Calleary

Question:

161. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the payment levels under each of the green low-carbon agri-environment scheme, GLAS measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14312/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The proposed new agri-environment scheme GLAS (Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme) provides for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging environmental actions. The proposed minimum contract is five years. Payment rates for specific actions have yet to be settled.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (162)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

162. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment will issue under the 2012 and 2013 disadvantaged area-based payment to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14313/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Processing of the application of the person named under the 2012 and 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was recently finalised, following confirmation of compliance with a lower stocking rate than that of the Scheme minimum, due to restrictions under an Agri-Environment Plan. Payments under both years are due to issue to the nominated bank account of the person named shortly.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (163)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

163. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) may expect to receive their agri-environment option scheme grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14319/14]

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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 1 September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years. During a 2013 inspection, the person named was found to have non-compliances in respect of the Coppicing of Hedgerows, Laying of Hedgerows and Alternative Water Source for Bovines actions. A letter issued to the person named notifying them of the inspection findings and setting out the appeal option. As my Department has no record of receiving an appeal, the application has been processed on the basis of the inspection findings and I expect payment in respect of 2013, less penalties due, to issue shortly.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (164)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

164. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will receive their 2013 agri-environment option scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14355/14]

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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 1 September 2011 and full payments have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years. The person named was selected for an on-farm inspection which took place on 11 September 2013. During this inspection, issues of non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme were noted in relation to the Traditional Hay Meadow, Planting of New Hedgerows and Broadleaf Tree Planting actions. Letters issued to the person named in relation to the breaches found, requesting information and giving the option of remedial action in relation to the tree planting. A reply was received on 21 March 2014 and it is currently being examined by officials in my Department as part of the inspection process. It is expected that this matter will be resolved shortly and the application will then be processed for payment for 2013.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (165)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

165. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under the 2013 disadvantaged area-based scheme will be paid to a farmer (details supplied) in County Kerry; the reason there is a delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14359/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, eligible applicants’ holdings were required to have satisfied minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units for a retention period of seven consecutive months, in addition to maintaining an annual average of 0.15 livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year. The person named did not satisfy these minimum requirements. Therefore, no payment is due to the person named under the 2013 Scheme.

Animal Welfare

Questions (166, 172, 177)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

166. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which it is expected the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 is likely to ensure that all animals are subject to the provisions of the legislation without exception, that the welfare of all horses is observed in the spirit and the letter, that management, husbandry and health requirements are met in full and without exception, that traceability and accountability in accordance with the legislation prevails throughout the country, the extent to which inspections in respect of non-thoroughbred horses will be provided for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14396/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

172. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which animal welfare legislation adequately addresses issues arising in respect of production, husbandry, treatment and general welfare of the non-thoroughbred horse sector; the extent to which violations in this area have been brought to the attention of the relevant sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14432/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

177. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which production, husbandry and welfare of the non-thoroughbred horse sector continues to be monitored by his Department with a view to ensuring that the highest standards are applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14437/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 166, 172 and 177 together.

The Animal Health and Welfare Act, which I commenced last month, applies to all animals and imposes additional responsibilities on all owners of animals. With regard to the welfare of animals, the Act puts clear obligations on owners regarding the need to look after animals under their care. These relate to feed and drink, shelter and protection from disease, injury, or discomfort. Significant powers are provided to authorised officers to inspect any premises where animals of any species are present. Where offences occur, the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013 provides for increased penalties, with fines of up to €5,000 on summary conviction and €250,0000 and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years on indictment. It also provides for fixed penalty payments for lesser offenses.

In addition, for the first time the new Animal Health and Welfare Act provides the legal basis to enable the Department require notification of transfer of ownership of horses. Legislation is being prepared to provide for this and will be ready shortly. Regulations on the registration of horse premises, which were introduced in 2012, require an owner/person in charge of any premises on which horses are kept to register the premises with the Department. These regulations are also continued under the new Animal Health and Welfare Act. To date, my Department has 12,000 registered horse premises in its database under the relevant statutory instrument.

My Department continues to work closely with the local authorities, the Gardai Siochana and animal welfare bodies with a view to addressing horse welfare issues generally and where necessary, removing abandoned horses from public lands. In some instances local authorities have assisted with the removal of horses trespassing (without the consent of the farmer) on a farmer’s private lands. Additional funding resources of €3.1m was provided to the local authorities in 2013 to enable them to deal with stray and unwanted horses and this enabled the removal last year of in excess of 4,700 stray or unwanted horses throughout the country.

With regard to horses in the non-thoroughbred horse sector, my Department continues to adopt a pro-active approach in relation to production, husbandry, treatment and general welfare issues. The Department has been working with the Farm Animal Advisory Council (FAWAC) on the these issues and a very informative booklet has been produced by FAWAC on animal welfare guidelines for horses, ponies and donkeys in an effort to promote sound welfare and management practices. In essence, the booklet advises horse owners that they should ensure that horses in their care have, as a minimum, access to proper shelter, a dry lie area to protect against inclement weather and access to good quality pasture and fodder.

In recognition of the assistance provided by animal welfare bodies in protecting horse welfare, I awarded funding of €1.8m in December 2013 to organisations involved in animal care and welfare services throughout the country to support their activities in 2014. Funding was increased and concentrated on those animal welfare organisations involved with horses.

Fish Farming

Questions (167)

Clare Daly

Question:

167. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in view of the fact that constant monitoring is a condition of salmon farm licences, the reason he stated that it would take time to gather information on the escapees at Bantry Bay on 1 February. [14397/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department’s Engineering Division, in conjunction with the Marine Institute, conducted a survey at the site referred to by the Deputy at the first available opportunity and have provided preliminary scientific and technical reports to my Department. The very severe weather conditions experienced at the time of the incident referred to by the Deputy are well documented. At all times site surveys must be conducted in a manner which takes due account of the health and safety of the personnel involved.