Thursday, 11 May 2017

Questions (239, 240)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

239. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of each EU Agriculture Council Ministers' meeting at which he made the case for the need for a revision of EU Regulation No. 1407/2013 to protect agri enterprises and related jobs during the UK’s two-year exit from the EU; the date of every such meeting at which this was raised, in tabular form; the status of progress being made at EU level to increase current state aid thresholds to support agri enterprises in the event of a hard Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22586/17]

View answer

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

240. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the details of each EU Agriculture Council Ministers' meeting at which he made the case for a revision of state aid de minimus rules up to a maximum amount of at least €30,000 per farm (details supplied); the date of every such meeting at which this was raised, in tabular form; the status of progress being made at EU level to increase current state aid thresholds to support farm enterprises in the event of a hard Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22587/17]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together. 

I raised the question of revising State Aid rules to increase the agriculture de minimis limits in 2016 during discussions at the Council of Agriculture Ministers, as a potential measure that could be introduced to assist primary producers in the wake of the market difficulties they had been experiencing in the previous 12-18 month period.  

I have also discussed this question informally with Commissioner Hogan.

Having said that, I and my officials are continuing our engagement with the Commission and with other Member States to ensure that Ireland’s concerns and requirements in relation to Brexit are fully understood.

As the deputy is already aware, a number of measures were introduced to support the agri-food sector in dealing with the fall in value of sterling against the euro.  These support measures include additional funding for Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara, increased expenditure on the Rural Development Programme and the Seafood Development Programme and enhanced agri-taxation measures.  From a state aid perspective, the recently launched €150 million low-cost loan scheme, includes de minimis aid to permit the funding to be used for non livestock farmers, in particular tillage and horticulture farmers.

As regards a revision of EU Regulation 1407/2013, or the general de minimis regulation, this is something that falls within the remit of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (D/JEI).